Overview of Teenage Smoking

In this overview of teenage smoking we learn more about alternative smoking devices; kreteks, bidis, and hookahs are all defined. Learn why these aren't any better than smoking cigarettes or cigars. Also get some tips on how to help teens stop smoking.

The teen smoking has remained very stable since 2002, report the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, teenage smoking has dropped since the 1990s. While smokeless tobacco is sometimes used, the most common way for teenagers to use tobacco is through smoking. And the most common type of instrument used is the cigarette. But there are other teen smoking devices as well, including kreteks, bidis and hookahs. All three of these are gaining in popularity.

Effects of  teen smoking

No matter what a teen is smoking, there are some serious effects. Asthma and an increased risk of cancer can result from any smoking that is done. Smoking can cause respiratory problems, as well as increase the chance of blood clot. Some types of teen smoking can result in the spread of ulcers and tuburculosis.

It doesn’t matter whether a teen is smoking a kretek or a cigarette.  It doesn’t have to be regular cigarettes. Indeed, one of the problems associated with smoking with other devices is that many teenagers are misled into thinking that using them is safer. In some cases the smoke from alternative smoking devices is actually more toxic than regular cigarette smoke.

Teen smoking: kreteks

Kreteks (say kree-teks) are also called clove cigarettes. This is due to the fact that kreteks contain a certain amount (usually between 30 and 40 percent) of clove oil or cloves themselves. Most kreteks originate in countries in Southeast Asia -  " Indonesia is one of the more popular suppliers. Tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine are all delivered in greater numbers than regular cigarettes when teens are smoking kreteks. It is important to note that kreteks are not less dangerous than regular cigarettes.

Teen smoking: bidis

Bidis (say beedies) are flavored cigarettes. They are often imported from India, although they come from other countries in Southeast Asia as well. Bidis are increasing in popularity due to the fact that they come in “candy” flavors: cherry, orange, strawberry and even chocolate.

Bidis have been marketed as more “natural” than cigarettes and as a better alternative in teen smoking. They are hand rolled using temburi or tendu leaf, and colorful strings tie the ends, making it look attractive. They are also thinner. But don’t be fooled. They deliver more nicotine (allowing a faster “buzz” than regular cigarettes) and carbon monoxide. Bidis can increase the chance of heart attacks as well as repiratory problems.

Teen smoking: hookahs

Hookahs are known as water pipes. It is also sometimes called narghile (say nar-guh-lee). Hookahs are from the Middle East and Asia. A water pipe filled with a tobacco mixture that may contain dried fruit, honey or molasses. A long hose is used to inhale the smoke. Hookahs are becoming more popular in teen smoking, since it is considered a social mode of smoking, and it seems exotic.

Unfortunately, many believe that hookahs are safer than cigarettes because the water acts as a “filter.” This is just not true. Most of the toxins from the tobacco mixture are not filtered by water. Indeed, such cancer causing agents as tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals are found in hookah smoke. Additionally, since hookah smoking involves sharing a pipe, infectious diseases can be passed around.

Teen smoking: cigars

Cigars are seen by some as a status symbol. However, many teens do not engage in cigar smoking, although the incidence of this type of teen smoking is higher than “alternative” methods. More boys than girls smoke cigars, and many of them only do so on “special” occasions.

Quitting teen smoking

It is best to try and help your teen avoid smoking in the first place. Parents who are involved in their teens’ lives have a better chance of helping them avoid the pitfalls of teen smoking. However, sometimes a teen will start smoking in spite of all a parent can do. There are some things a parent can do to help a teen stop smoking:

  • Avoid judgmental language and actions.
  • Show support.
  • Encourage teens to share why they started in the first place.
  • Help your teen make a list of reasons to quit.
  • Encourage your teen in developing newer, healthier habits.
  • If you smoke, quit with your teen.
  • Reward your teenager for quitting.

It can be very difficult to quit smoking, no matter your age. But the earlier one quits smoking, the greater the likelihood that he or she will be able to avoid problems later in life. The key is to understand the dangers, and then be supportive as your teen tries to quit smoking.

Related Article: Effects of Teen Smoking >>