Term Paper on Teenage smoking

This essay has a total of 2175 words and 9 pages.

teenage smoking

Teenage Smoking
Cigarette smoking is a habit that kills approximately million of people per year. It is
surprisingly being picked up by countless amounts of children every day. Smoking becomes a
growing trend in the youth community. The number of young smokers has been increasing in
most American middle schools and high schools. Both girls and boys are smoking because
they think it is cool. Many of them will take this their trend and carry it for their
adulthood. The four reasons that cause many teenagers to start smoking are peer-pressure,
image projection, rebellion, and adult aspirations. Approximately 3,000 teenagers pick up
the smoking habit each day in America. That is roughly one million new teenage smokers per
year. The anti-smoking message has never been louder or more prominent. Yet the numbers
suggest that the anti-smoking message is having a reverse effect. Between 1993 and 1997,
the number of college students who smoke jumped from twenty-two percent to twenty-nine
percent. Between 1991 and 1997, the number of high school students who smoke jumped
thirty-two percent. In 1996, smoking rates are twenty-one percent among eighth-graders
(13-14 years old), thirty percent among 10th-graders (15-16 years old), and thirty-four
percent among 12th-graders (17-18 years old). Since 1988, the total number of teen smokers
in the United States has risen an amazing seventy-three percent. These rates are
impressively high, especially when compared to the fact that about twenty-five percent of
all adults, who carried the trend past teenage years, are classified as smokers according
to the National Health Interview Survey. According to The Tipping Point by Malcolm
Gladwell, this trend of smoking has all the elements consistent with a tipping point
phenomenon. Gladwell's three criteria for a tipping point phenomenon are all meet with
smoking.

Cigarette smoking peaked in 1996 among eighth, and tenth graders nationwide, and in 1997
among 12th-graders. Since those peak years, there has been a gradual decline in smoking
rates, which continued in 1999. (Johnston). Rates of daily smoking are also down from
their peak levels (in 1996 for eighth- and 10th-graders and in 1997 for 12th-graders) but
did not show much improvement in 1999 specifically, according to Johnston.

"Because young people tend to carry the smoking habits they develop in adolescence into
adulthood, the substantial and continuing increases in teen smoking bode ill for the
eventual longevity and health of this generation of American young people," concludes
Johnston. "Hundreds of thousands of children from each graduating class are likely to
suffer appalling diseases, and to die prematurely, as a result of the smoking habits they
are developing in childhood and adolescence." Young people continue to report cigarettes
as being easily available to them: seventy-seven percent of the eighth-graders, who are 13
or 14 years old, report that cigarettes would be "very easy" or "fairly easy" for them to
get, and ninety-one percent of the 10th-graders say the same thing.

The teen smoking trend does not simply illustrate the Law of the Few (connectors, mavens,
and salesmen). Teen smoking also is a very good illustration of the Stickiness Factor
because the fact that overwhelming numbers of teens experiment with cigarettes as a result
of their contacts with other teens, which is no surprise. The problem with teenage smoking
is that many of those teenagers end up continuing their cigarette experiment until they
get holed. This is a considerable reason on why smoking has turned into public health
enemy number one. The smoking experience is so memorable and powerful for some people that
they cannot stop smoking. Therefore, smoking habits stick.

It is important to keep the terms contagiousness and stickiness separate because they
follow very different patterns and suggest very different strategies. Specialists in
stickiness have a genius for creating messages that are memorable and that change people's
behavior. Contagiousness is in larger part a function of the messenger. Stickiness is
primarily a property of the message. Smoking contains these factors, whether a teen picks
up the habit depends on whether he or she has contact with a Salesman who gives the teen
"permission" to smoke. But whether or not a teenager likes cigarettes enough to keep using
them depends on various factors. A study performed by the University of Michigan polled a
large group of people about how they felt when they smoked their first cigarette.
According to Ovide Pomerleau, one of the researchers, almost everyone in their initial
experience with tobacco was somewhat averse. But what separates smokers to be from never
again smokers is the smoker to be felt a pleasurable experience or "buzz" from smoking
tobacco. Of the people who experimented with cigarettes only a few times and never smoked
again, only about one-fourth received any king of "buzz" from their first cigarette.
One-third of ex-smokers, who smoked but later quit, felt the "buzz" while they smoked
their first cigarette. Half of all light smokers felt the "buzz" and seventy-eight percent
of heavy smokers got a "buzz" from their first cigarette. The initial reaction of how a
person reacts to nicotine will determine how sticky smoking ends up being to any single
person.

Why has there been such an increase in the number of smoking young people? There are
several causes for this trend. First, it is the peer pressure. Group acceptance is one of
the reasons that cause many teenagers to start smoking. They smoke based solely on the
fact that cigarettes make them look cool. For example, if their friends are smoking, many
teenagers will begin smoking simply to maintain their acceptance within the group. On the
other hand, some of the young people start smoking just out of curiosity. From this
curiosity, they will try smoking, and whether they like it or not will be the basis for
their decision. However, I know most of them will not quit after their first cigarette
because if they quit, then their friends might say that you are not cool. For instance, if
you have a group of friends, and every one of them smokes except you, then you feel weird
when you hang out with them. As a result of feeling weird in front of your friends, you
now have a sudden urge to start smoking simply because you want to act the same as your
friend does. About 60% of all high school students try smoking by the time they are
seniors because they think it is a cool thing to do (Johnston).

Over the past decade, the anti-smoking movement has moved against the tobacco companies
for making smoking cool and has spent millions of dollars of public money trying to
convince teenagers that smoking is not cool. But the problem is that smoking is not cool
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