Why do teens smoke and how/where do they pick it up?

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Why do teens smoke and how/where do they pick it up?

Postby sashimi » Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:37 am

I was walking out of the library one day when I noticed a bunch of 4 girls by the road in front. They looked like ordinary secondary school girls, probably 14-15 years old, nothing unusual, no tattoos or heavy make-up or whatever.

And then one of them is smoking a cigarette.

More commonly, I've seen secondary school-age boys as well, in uniform, smoking, different races. This one we all know. Not to mention the increasing number of women, young and old, blue- and white- collar, smoking. It seems there is little in common among smokers, they come from all walks of life.

I'd like to get some insight from fellow parents here with older kids, or if you yourself smoke. No offense, but my aim is to ensure my daughter never picks it up.

In the first place, can anyone explain - why do these kids pick up smoking? What is their motivation? How is it they can afford it so easily, and how do they go around the law and manage to get cigarettes? Also, where do they pick up the habit? And are there any danger zones in their school or social life, or warning signs one can look out for?

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Re: Why do teens smoke and how/where do they pick it up?

Postby jedamum » Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:17 pm

sashimi wrote:In the first place, can anyone explain - why do these kids pick up smoking? What is their motivation? How is it they can afford it so easily, and how do they go around the law and manage to get cigarettes? Also, where do they pick up the habit? And are there any danger zones in their school or social life, or warning signs one can look out for?

I have no teen kids (obviously :wink:), but i do believe that smoking has links to peer pressure and the need to be accepted. I was more than once offered a stick by my friend as a dare, and actually got away with more respect from her when I turn her down. Their motivation probably started with doing the same activities as their peers. Then it became a habit. They probably mixed with some older peers who can easily supply cigarettes.
As for warning signs, in my opinion, the smoke is difficult to mask. I do pick up some stench from my bro, but he is old enough for me to mind my own biz (besides, it can be from his friends :wink:).
Just my 2cents.

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Postby EstherTan » Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:31 pm

This is going to open a can of worms... but...

I think smoking is one thing that we can't completely shield our kids from. Peer pressure, examples from adults (relatives, friends), walking along the road and seeing people who look 'successful, cool', someone who could be a role model and puffing away on cigarettes. Smoking is also perceived as something adults do (and we know what that means to our kids, they also want to copy!). Some students find it as a way to de-stress (which the act of hanging out and puffing a cigarette slowly can calm them down).

Schools come down harsh on students who smoke, provided they are caught (or rat out on). Not all business men are honest and will check ID cards. I know a 14 year old who gets cigarettes from her Mom (Mom buys, shares with daughter). Another 15 year old who hangs out with older friends/ siblings who buy and share cigarettes. And I've seen a primary school student smoking at a staircase.

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Postby schellen » Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:07 am

Kids start smoking usually when people around them smoke too, e.g., their family members and friends. These people not only spend a lot of time with the kids, they may also be whom they kids look up to or want to be on good terms with, so family/peer pressure comes into play. The smokers may not even have to offer cigarettes to the kids but just by smoking in front of them, the kids will think that it is okay to smoke too.

When the kids start smoking, and if family/friends don't step in to stop them early on, it will be very difficult to get the kids to quit, and this is not just due to the withdrawal symptoms. Schools can only do so much if they don't have support from family and friends. For your information, if a teacher smells cigarette smoke on a student, he/she cannot take disciplinary measures because there is no evidence that the student smokes, even if he/she was searched and cigarettes and lighters were found in his/her possession. All the teacher can do is issue a warning and inform the relevant teachers-in-charge. Some schools may send the student to the school counsellor as a prevention measure. Only when the student is caught with a cigarette in his/her hand and puffing away in the school compound or wearing school uniform outside school can teachers take action...because there is now evidence. Students are very good at avoiding detection so cases like these are hard to come by.

One way to confirm that the person is a smoker and has recently been smoking since the past hour is to sniff the mouth or the fingers. Underaged smokers can deny and say that the smells came from others who were smoking but I think this excuse can only be used if the smells are found only on other parts of the body, hair and clothes.

Personally, I have never wanted to smoke, even when people I know do. I already suffer from asthma so I know how bad it is when my lungs are not working at full capacity. Can you imagine if I were to smoke too? I might as well give up on breathing entirely.

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Postby sashimi » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:04 am

Hmmmm.

Are things really that bad/unavoidable? Who here would NOT mind if your kids pick up smoking when they are older? I would. I have, from the time my daughter was about 4 I started telling her smoking is bad. But naturally I am not convinced telling her will help if she gets into situations where she may get tempted.

To me, smoking is - offence intended - one of the stupidest and dumbest, idiotic things ever invented/done by man, and if I could choose one species in nature to eliminate from the face of the earth, it would in fact be the tobacco plant.

I am adamant about ensuring my kid does not pick up smoking.

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Postby EstherTan » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:42 pm

Agree.

Like schellen, I have a sensitive nose and walking past/ into a cloud of cigarette smoke makes me cough very badly.

sashimi - I don't think it's a situation where they definitely WILL try, just that not to be surprised if they do, and be prepared to handle it.

I was stupid once. I actually tried a cigarette knowing it would make me cough. Didn't go past that first attempt. Found no relief from being in a very stressful period and no 'light' that went on and branded me as being 'cool' :D

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Postby MLR » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:08 am

Both my parents and grandparents are/were smokers. Now my mum has quit, my dad chain-smokes. I smoked when i started work. It was easy, cos collegues smokes, so whenever they go and take a puff, I was offered. Since my parents and grandparents smokes, it was no big deal for me, I started smoking with them. It continued for about a year, funny thing is that I don't smoke at home. Then I had a case of bad tonsile infections, lost my voice for a week, went to doctor, doctor said if I want my voice back, had to quit smoking, so i did and I never ever lit another.

Out of us three kids in the family, my brother is the smoker, pick it up during army days.

DH smoked in his younger days, stopped in his late twenties and now actively getting people around him to quit.

In the case of our DS, we didn't tell him conciously that smoking is bad, he knows that its bad. Whenever he sees my dad smoking, he will tell grandpa to "STOP IT" and goes "phew its smelly". So DH and I think that we don't hv to consiously tell him, cos he already knows. And me think that if you keep telling him, he may actually be tempted to go try, cos he wants to know what will happen if he does do it. Children are curious by nature, and if you keep bringing something up, you are actually encouraging them to go explore it. The effects of smoking is not an immediate visible one, so if they do try it and nothing happens to them, then there could 2 scenarios: 1. what the big deal and just ignore it, also may think that parents are over reacting. 2. parents are lying bunch and what else are they lying about... hmmm.... what else should i try now....

Don't mean to be funny, but out of 4 grandparents, the 3 that smoked lived into their 80s and the one that didn't passed away in her 60s. The 3 that passed on didn't died from any lung cancer or any cancer or lung related illness. One died from head trauma after a fall, one from alcohol related illness, one from stomach ailments.

The only thing I believe that that I suffered from all those 2nd-hand smoke is that although I can swim 50 laps in the pool in my younger days, I cannot do my 2.4km run in under 15 mins.

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Postby csc » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:32 am

quote] Children are curious by nature, and if you keep bringing something up, you are actually encouraging them to go explore it. The effects of smoking is not an immediate visible one, so if they do try it and nothing happens to them, then there could 2 scenarios: 1. what the big deal and just ignore it, also may think that parents are over reacting. 2. parents are lying bunch and what else are they lying about... hmmm.... what else should i try now....

Don't mean to be funny, but out of 4 grandparents, the 3 that smoked lived into their 80s and the one that didn't passed away in her 60s. The 3 that passed on didn't died from any lung cancer or any cancer or lung related illness. One died from head trauma after a fall, one from alcohol related illness, one from stomach ailments.


Thanks for that authetic sharing, MLR.


I agree with you about the point on arousing the curiosity of children. Some kids are also rebellious by nature and the more you don't want them to do certain things, they will do it either to test your limits or to spite you.

If the parents don't have this habit, i think half the battle is won. But , we have to fight the other half of the battle when they go to the secondary school (against the peer influence), go to the army and even workplace.
What parents can do is to monitor their friends closely and keep the communication channel open. Some smoke or drink to de-stress , so parents may want to suggest other healthy ways of de-stressing.

And MLR, my grandparents smoked heavily too and they passed away at the ripe old age of 89 and 88 respectively. My dad who is 77 smokes too.
One reason I can think of is the older generation lived a less stressful lifestyle and they ate simply too. Despite smoking, they are still able to live long. My grandpa died from a cancerous ulcer in his mouth (I suspect it's due to smoking). Maybe, he could have lived longer if he had not smoked???

Well, there are many other evils/addictions in this life we need to contend with besides smoking ! I'm more worried about pornography and homosexuality actually. :lol:

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Postby sashimi » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:06 pm

csc wrote:

I agree with you about the point on arousing the curiosity of children. Some kids are also rebellious by nature and the more you don't want them to do certain things, they will do it either to test your limits or to spite you.


That's exactly it. I recall a similar discussion about promiscuity in this forum - one of you described how a seemingly angelic young lady, when studying abroad, slept around indiscriminately - and her parents never knew it.

I am not so igorant as to think that just because a child says a particular habit or behaviour is "bad" means she will not do it. Just the opposite, human nature is such that knowing its bad actually becomes a greater temptation to do it.

The excuse/reason given in response is typically - try already then know it's really bad. But it's a thin line between the decision to continue and the decision to stop. Nicotine after all is a narcotic, and thus the decision gradually becomes divorced from the person when he becomes addicted.

My other issue is that smoking in Singapore is obviously on the increase, esp. among the young and the female population. As more people smoke, it becomes a regularity - this means it's no longer "unusual". It slowly becomes more and more accepted, regular, usual.

Like the very inconsiderate habit of smokers in Singapore to smoke when they are walking in public - considered an offence in some parts of Japan, it is now a norm in Singapore, and exceedingly rude to non-smokers on the path.

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Postby MLR » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:31 pm

sashimi wrote:
My other issue is that smoking in Singapore is obviously on the increase, esp. among the young and the female population. As more people smoke, it becomes a regularity - this means it's no longer "unusual". It slowly becomes more and more accepted, regular, usual.


It would seems that there are more smokers maybe its becos younger crowds are generally more open about their vices and also theres more migrant workers who hang out in public areas and they do make up quite a part of the smokers population. Also, since cigarette are costly, it does becomes a staus symbol amongst youngsters to be able to afford it (this I overheard while on bus). It does seems like its becoming quite a trend in the female population, cos female are now seen doing more male dominated stuff like golfing, skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, tattooing, becoming ceos/coos/cfos..... In the older days, women who smoke are deem indecent, dubious backgrounds, where men are deem macho and tough.

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