100,000 people in the UK die each year due to smoking. That is 1/640 of the entire population. I’m sure most of us have easily talked to 640 people in the last year – think of friends, relatives, people at school, shop assistants, and supermarket checkout workers… Can you imagine every year, one of them dying and their cigarette habit being to blame?
I used to associate smoking with middle aged, or older people… Almost all of my grandparents and older family members smoked, and I saw it as quite a generational thing – in their teens (the 40s, 50s and 60s) smoking was highly glamourized and seen as really ‘cool’, and I did not believe this was still the case. As kids in my school year grew older, of course some of them smoked and got into drinking, but it wasn’t until college that a trend begun. No different to other schools I’m sure; we now have a whole ‘gang’ of smokers. They meet up in a large group (sometimes over 30 people), swap cigarettes and also sell them, they often do the same with drugs too. I would say now (Year 11) that almost ½ of my year (360 kids) have tried smoking.
This links to something I read recently online - 90% of smokers begin before the age of 19. That’s an incredibly high percentage, and after thinking about it I really couldn’t understand why schools and parents aren’t doing more to educate their children on the dangers of smoking. Sure we’ve all had those lessons where we watch a video of someone with normal lungs, and then gross, blackened lungs after 5 or 10 years of smoking – but what else do we get taught? If you really think about it, or at least in my opinion – quite often we are encouraged to smoke and drink by adults… Think of who your role models are – your parents maybe, teachers, celebrities, actors, singers? 1.1 billion people - which is 1 in every 3 adults - are smokers, so it’s not uncommon for these ‘idols’ to fall into this category… As kids and teenagers, if we see a large group of people doing something, we naturally want to do it too, and 1.1 billion is a very large group.
So what kind of role models are we faced with? The amount of Science teachers I’ve had during school years that teach about how ‘your lungs will tint black even after just one cigarette, don’t do it’ while the smell of smoke lingers on their own breath is uncanny. In almost every direction we look, smoking can seem ‘cool’ and normal, but the one direction it is certainly not cool in, is our health. I took some time to look into smoking further, and it really is incredibly harmful. You only get one body, one heart, and one pair of lungs, and the affects of smoking are bad, but what it can do to us if we start young is even worse.
Here are just a few examples of what this habit can do…
- Addiction to nicotine
- Respiratory & breathing problems (e.g. shortness of breath)
- Concentration difficulties
- Heart Disease
- Affects physical capability, especially in young people
- Someone who smokes a pack or more a day of cigarettes will on average live 7 years less than someone who’s never smoked
- Smoking from an early age increases risk of lung cancer
- More likely to have psychological or emotional problems
- Teens who smoke are 22 times more likely than non smokers to use cocaine, and similarly more likely to use other drugs
Smoking is the highest form of preventable death out there, which simply means it could be totally avoided if we changed the way we lived and made choices that looked after our body rather than filled it with toxins and ash. It’s incredibly important we look after our bodies when we’re young; we need not start a habit that is incredibly hard to stop…
Smoking is poison; do you really want that inside of you?
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.