Young People and Smoking

“Tobacco use in Africa is more than a health problem. It’s a development problem too. Tobacco breeds poverty, killing people in their most productive years. It consumes family and health-care budget. Also, money spent on tobacco is money not spent on such essentials as education, food and medicine”
Dr.  Aja Alwan,
WHO Assistant-Director General for Non-communicable Disease and Mental Health

“Fred and I are close friends; both of us are dedicated to tobacco. We acknowledge our craving for this substance and recently, we have being getting help from counseling center not too far from home. Fred was introduced into smoking four years ago by his friend. He initially refused to take the stick, but latter gave in after much pressure. Mine was a subtle tobacco journey. A friend gave me a brown substance and told me I didn’t need to smoke it. He said all I need to do was to slosh it around my mouth and spit out the brown juice every few seconds. I was distinguished at first but I tried it. I loved the sensation it gave me. I did this for three years before I realized that I had become addicted to tobacco, also known as smokeless tobacco.”

Tobacco is an agricultural product processed for the leaves of plant in the genus Nicotina. The word nicotina (as well as nicotine) was named in honor of Jean Nicot, a French ambassador of Portugal, who in 1559 sent it as a medicine to the court of Catherine de Medici. It can be used as organic pesticides, and also used in some medicine. In consumption, it most commonly appears in the form of smoking, chewing, sniffing or dipping tobacco. Tobacco had long been used in America as an Entheogen before the arrival of the Europeans in North America: tobacco became quickly popularized as a trade item and as a recreational drug. The development of the cigarette was gingered by the change in demand and a change in the labor force, during the American civil war, Nicotine is both a stimulant and a depressant. That means it increases the heart rate at first and makes people feel more alert (like caffeine, and other stimulants). Then it causes depression and fatigue. The drugs withdrawal from nicotine makes people crave another cigarette to perk up again. According to many experts, the nicotine in tobacco is as addictive as cocaine in heroin.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use is one of the chef preventable cause of death. It attributes 5 million death to tobacco annually and by 2020, the figure is expected to exceed 10 million with approximately 70% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. In 1999, the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) was initiated by WHO, Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC), and Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) to monitor tobacco use, attitudes about tobacco use, and exposure of second-hand smoke (SHS) among students aged 13-15 years. The GTYS covered five centers in Nigeria, including Abuja, Ibadan, Lagos, Kano and Cross River State in 2008.

The vast majority of smokers begin using tobacco products well before the age of 18 years. Statistics reveal that the use of tobacco by 13-15 years old student is greater than 10% in addition, almost one in four students (13-15 years old)who ever smoked cigarettes smoked their first cigarette before the age of 10. Recent studies have revealed that there is a little difference between the gender in cigarette smoking or in the use of other tobacco products. It was predicted that if the pattern used nowadays continued, a lifetime of tobacco use will result in the death of 250 million children and young people alive today, most of them in developing countries. These are various determinants of tobacco use among young people. These includes cultural norms, availability of different types of tobacco products , tobacco industry behavior to promote tobacco use and undercut tobacco control strategies, and, most important6ly, the advertisement and marketing effort of the tobacco industry which greatly influences adolescent smoking behavior, etcetera.

As part of its natural tobacco control strategies, Nigeria has become a signatory to the WHO Frameworks Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in June 2004 and r5atified in October 2005. In June 2006, the Honorable Minister of Health inaugurated a multi-sectorial/inter-sectorial committee to tobacco control in Nigeria. At the state level;, the Cross River State Government had in 2001 passed a law prohibiting advertisement of tobacco in the media while the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) has placed a ban on public smoking since May 31, 2008. Recently, in 2008, a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have come together to form an Anti-Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA). The advocacy group is now partner with the Government in its tobacco control effort. Most of member organizations carry our activities especially during the World No Tobacco day (WNTD) on May 31 each year to raise public awareness of the serious health, environmental and economic hazard posed by tobacco.

You may be involved in SECOND-HAND SMOKING!

You now know that smoking is a bad idea, but probably have not heard that breathing in someone else’s second-hand smoke come from both the smoke that smokers exhale (called mainstream smoke) and floating from the end of the cigarette, cigar, or pipe (called side-stream smoke).

It may seem pretty harmless, but second-hand smoke actually contains thousands of chemicals, many of which have being proven to be toxic or to cause cancer (called carcinogens). High concentrations of many of these chemicals are found in the second-hand smoke. In fact, second-hand smoke significantly increases a person’s risk for: respiratory infection (like bronchitis and pneumonia), asthma (second-hand smoke is a risk factor for the development of asthma and can trigger attacks in those who already have it), etc.

Why is smoking really said to be dangerous

The real reason people smoke is to get nicotine which is highly addictive. The World Health Organization report it to be the leading preventable cause of death worldwide and estimates that it currently causes 5.4 million deaths per year.

Cigarette smoke contains dangerous chemicals such as:

  • Arsenic (rat poison)
  • Ammonia (poisonous, in many household cleaners)
  • Acetone (fingernail polish remover)
  • Ammonia bromide (toilet cleaner)
  • Benzene (industrial solvent)
  • Carbon monoxide (exhaust pipe fume)
  • Cadmium (used in rechargeable batteries)
  • Cyanide (poison used in gas chambers)
  • DDT (insecticide)
  • Formaldehyde (preservative for dead frog, embalming fluid)
  • Lead (a poison removed from nearly all paints)
  • Mercury (highly poisonous easily absorbed through respiration)
  • Nickel (poisonous, a known cancer-causing agent0
  • Hydrogen cyanide (deadly poison used in gas chambers)
  • Hydrogen sulfide (sewer gas)
  • Polonium-201 (radioactive substance)
  • 50 +cancer causing agents (8carcinogen) etcetera

Health effects of smoking among young people

  • Among young people, health consequences of smoking includes respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine and the associated risk of other drug use, besides the high tendency of having a lower level of lungs function  than those people who have never smoked.
  • In adults, cigarette smoking causes heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that early sigh of these disease can be found in adolescent who smoke.
  • The resting heart rate of young adult smokers are two or three minute faster than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking at early age increases the high risk of lungs cancer, .for most smoking-related cancers, the risk rises as the individual continues to smoke.
  • Teenage smokers suffers from shortness of breath almost three times as often as teens that don’t smoke, and produce phlegm more than twice as often as teens who don’t smoke


  • Tobacco use is one of the main factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lungs diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and cigarette smoking cause most cases.
  • For smoking-attributable cancers, the risk generally increases with the number of cigarette smoked and the number of years of smoking, and generally decreases after quitting completely.
  • The combination of smoking and alcohol consumption causes most laryngeal cancer cases. In 2003, as estimated 3800 deaths occurred from laryngeal cancer.
  • In 2003, as estimated 57,400 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed and an estimated 12,500 died from the diseases.

How to Stop Smoking

The first step to stop smoking is to understand why you must quit (saving oneself from the numerous effect of smoking), followed by the determination to be disciplined in the rigor involved in it. You have to prepare yourself mentally. Stay away from scenarios where you must enjoy your smoke such as bar, joints, clubs, and beaches. You need to realize that the craving, as strong as it is, only lasts 2-3 minutes. So, next time you crave one, occupy yourself- and the craving will be gone. Make up your mind to be committed to the end.

Put it in writing. People who want to make a change often are more successful when they put it in writing. So write down all the reasons why you want to quit smoking, such as the money you will save or the stamina you’ll gain for playing sports. Keep that list where you can see it, and add to it as you think of new reasons.

Get support. People whose friends and family help them quit are much more likely to succeed. If you don’t want to tell your parents or family that you smoke, make sure your friend know, and consider confiding in a counselor or other adult(s) you trust.


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