Avatar photo

Compiled by Asanda Mbayimbayi

Here are some reasons why children start smoking

Affinity Health explores reasons behind kids starting to smoke.

Affinity Health, a reputable healthcare provider, raises concerns about the imminent danger smoking poses to children in South Africa.

Even though there are strict laws to stop selling cigarettes to young people, many of them can still get their hands on tobacco products.

Starting to smoke at a young age can have serious consequences and increase the chances of health problems later in life.

As World No Tobacco Day approaches on 31 May 2023, Affinity Health emphasises the significance of collaboration among parents, educators, and policymakers to tackle this matter effectively and secure a healthy, smoke-free future for our children.

Close up of a teen hands holding a lighter lighting a cigarette ready to smoke. Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Health risks of children smoking

Smoking poses various serious health risks for children, which according to Affinity Health, can lead to the following health complications:

  • Respiratory problems – Smoking can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It can also lead to asthma and other respiratory problems.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • Cancer – Smoking is a leading cause of lung, throat, and mouth cancer. Children who smoke are at increased risk of developing cancer later in life.
  • Dental problems – Smoking can cause yellow teeth, bad breath, and gum disease. It can also lead to tooth loss and oral cancer.
  • Reduced athletic performance – Smoking can reduce lung capacity and endurance, making it harder for children to participate in sports and other physical activities.
  • Addiction – Nicotine is highly addictive, and children who start smoking are at risk of becoming addicted and continuing to smoke throughout their lives.

According to Murray Hewlett, the CEO of Affinity Health, smoking can have long-term and potentially life-threatening consequences.

“It’s important to remember that the effects of smoking can be long-lasting and even life-threatening. By preventing children from starting to smoke, we can help protect their health and set them up for a lifetime of wellness,” said Murray.

ALSO READ: Despite misinformation, vaccinations still important in preventing childhood diseases

A girl putting joint in ashtray at crazy party with smoke in the air. Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Reasons why children start smoking

The issue of tobacco product usage among children is multifaceted, involving various factors that influence their behaviour.

According to Affinity Health, here some of the factors that influence smoking:

Peer Pressure
One of the main reasons why kids start smoking is peer pressure. Children and teenagers must often fit in with their peers and may start smoking to feel accepted or cool. They may also be influenced by older siblings or friends who smoke.

Media Influence
Another reason why kids start smoking is due to media influence. Movies, TV shows, and advertisements often depict smoking as cool, attractive and glamorous. Children may see their favourite celebrities smoking and want to imitate them.

Stress and Anxiety
Children and teenagers may also start smoking to cope with stress and anxiety. Smoking can temporarily escape the pressures of school, family, and social life.

Some kids may start smoking as a form of rebellion against authority figures such as parents or teachers. They may feel that smoking is a way to express their independence and identity.

Two teen girls smoking. Picture: iStock
Two teen girls smoking. Picture: iStock

Five ways parents can help

According to Affinity Health, parents hold significant influence in preventing their children from initiating smoking habits. Here are five effective approaches through which you can assist your child in avoiding this habit:

  1. Start the conversation early: It’s important to talk to your children about the dangers of smoking at an early age. Make sure they understand the risks associated with smoking and the impact it can have on their health.
  1. Be a good role model: If you smoke, quitting is essential. Children are more likely to smoke if their parents smoke. If your parents smoke around their grandchildren, they should also be encouraged to quit.
  1. Talk about peer pressure: Make sure your children understand it’s okay to say no to smoking, even if their friends are doing it. Encourage them to find other ways to fit in with their peers.
  1. Encourage healthy coping mechanisms: Help your children find healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as exercise, meditation, or talking to a trusted adult.
  1. Monitor media exposure: Monitor the media your children are exposed to and talk to them about the harmful influence of smoking on their health.

NOW READ: There’s a new sex trend in town, and you’ll never guess what it is

Read more on these topics

anxiety Health school smoking stress Tobacco TV shows

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits