Down to the Last Breath

December 11, 2011
By , Windsor, PA
Smoking has many harmful effects to the human body and many others around them. Adolescents who start smoking usually continue though their life. The way the teenage brain works and the philosophy behind why teens start smoking shows why teens make such rebellious decisions. Even though teens start smoking there are many organizations to help quit and to prevent young smokers. Also there are some ideas on how to get teens to stop smoking and how to prevent them. Teens know how deadly it is to smoke but they still continue to do it regardless of the consequences.

What is most terrifying is that teens know how cigarettes and nicotine affect the body but they still continue to choose to smoke. Some studies show that teens smoke because it is known to calm nerves and relieve stress. Robert Ricketts, a 73 year old resident in central Pennsylvania, says that when he started smoking, “It was just something to do.” Sometimes teens just smoke for something to do. Once nicotine reaches the brain it produces pleasurable sensations (Tobacco 1). As a smoker inhales it produces an immediate satisfaction. Nicotine also improves moods, tension, relaxes muscles, for a short period it can increase a person’s attention, learning, reaction time, and problem solving (Hyde 43). Another study shows that during adolescent years teens are trying to come up with their own identities or to separate themselves from their parents. To do this some teens turn to smoking (National Geographic). As said by Aristotle, “the young are heated by Nature as drunken men by wine” (National Geographic 46). Between ages twelve and twenty-five the brain undergoes a mass reorganization. When the brain matures the,
“Corpus callosum, which connects the brain’s left and right hemisphere’s and carries traffic essential to many advanced brain functions, steadily thickens. Stronger links also develop between the hippocampus, a sort of direct memory, and frontal areas that set goals and weigh different agendas. This results in better at integrating memory and experience into our decisions” (National Geographic 43). National Geographic’s article shows that during the time when most people get hooked on smoking is when the “making decisions” part of the brain starts to mature.
There is also a condition known as non-suicidal self injury (NSSI). NSSI is “a prevalent but perplexing behavior problem in which people deliberately harm themselves without lethal intent” (Nock 1).Some students or adolescents usually have this symptom when it comes to cutting or carving of the skin. But what if they did with smoking as well? This diagnosis is a harmful behavior that can serve several interpersonal and intrapersonal functions. Teens may start smoking because they know it will harm them, just as well as cutting or carving their skin. There are still no specific reasons why teens start smoking. Whether they think its “cool” or are just under peer pressure (National Geographic 37-59).
Smoking is one of the main reasons people die every year. All of the substances in a cigarette affect every system in the body. Once a person starts smoking they increase their chances of developing cancer, heart disease, strokes and emphysema. Nicotine, the main reason people get addicted to cigarettes, contains forty-three carcinogens. A carcinogen is a substance that is an agent in directly causing cancer (Bender 1). As said by author Jane E. Broady, “Even occasional teen smokers can experience the same symptoms of nicotine withdraw that prompt adult smokers to light up again and again” (11). This shows how teens may get addicted to nicotine faster, but that it’s different for every person. The main chemicals in a cigarette are acetone (paint stripper), ammonia, arsenic, butan (lighter fluid), cadmium (car batteries), carbon monoxide, DDT (insecticides), hydrogen cyanide, methanol, and vinyl chloride (Tobacco 1). Some short term affects are decrease in lung function, shortness of breath, nagging cough, and a person looses seven years in their life expectancy (Hyde 13). On the other hand for a person to continue smoking some long term affects are coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, cerebral vascular disease, lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, kidney, bladder, and pancreatic cancer. Other well known diseases are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, gastro intestinal disease and what’s known as smoker’s lung. As written by M.D. John F. Setaro.
“It’s the nicotine that keeps you addicted, but the tar and many other poisons that are present in the smoke that cause great damage. Tar, the combustion product in tobacco leaves exposes smokers to a high rate of lung disease. Smokers cough a lot to help clear foreign matter from their trachea and from bronchi. When smoke is inhaled it irritates and eventually kills the cilia, the microscopic hairs that line the tubes that lead to the lungs. These tiny hairs are coated with a thin layer of mucus. Normally, the cilia are in constant motion, propelling the mucus, dust, bacteria, and other foreign particles toward the throat where they are either swallowed or coughed out. Smoke paralyzes the cilia, so dust and other pollutants accumulate and make the lungs venerable to chitis, a disease in which the airways become inflamed and clogged with mucus.” (40) This describes just how disgusting and how uncomfortable it must be to smoke.
After just one minute of smoking there is an increase in heart rate by thirty percent during the first ten minutes. And then with the second cigarette the heart pressure rises yet again. Even though adolescents know about all of these conditions and diseases they can get from smoking they still continue to do it. Why (Hyde 7-71)? This shows that teens start smoking for an adrenaline rush or just to create their own identity.

One out of every three teens who smoke started because of a movie. Thirteen percent of all teens smoke at least once a month. In one study of trying to get teens to quit smoking over forty percent of teens relapsed in a week or less. Only three percent stayed abstinent for a year and more than ninety percent of smokers say that they started smoking during high school (Hyde 24). This proves that teen smoking can proceed into adulthood. An average smoker inhales those toxins three-hundred times a day. Smoking kills more than four-hundred thousand people a year. That’s more deaths than AIDS, alcohol, suicides, car accidents, and murders combined (Bender 2). Even just after twenty minutes of not smoking a person’s blood pressure returns to normal. Just after forty-eight hours nerve endings start to re-grow and the ability to smell and taste improves. (Broady 8-43)

Even though teens know how deadly these “cancer sticks” are they still continue to start to smoke. There should be more creative and captivating lesson plans for ways teens can learn and acknowledge just how horrific smoking is and that it will affect a person’s health. Adolescents need to be more aware that their decisions in their teen years can seriously harm them when they are older.

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Richard G. said...
Apr. 5, 2013 at 4:15 am
Ha! this was obviously written by somebody who has never been around smoking, facts only get you so far before you just need some good ole fashioned EXPERIENCE DRIVEN KNOWLEDGE to make your point all that more valid.
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