- Teens with asthma are twice as likely to smoke, finds a study based on data from questionnaires for teens between 13 to 19 years.
- About 22% of teens with asthma were found to smoke while 12% of teens without asthma smoked.
- Teens who started smoking before they were 11 years said they did so to relieve stress and anxiety.
Teen smoking is a common phenomenon that threatens to affect the health of the youth. Most people begin smoking in their teenage years, more out of peer pressure than out of choice, with curiosity being a big factor. The same factors drive teenagers with asthma to take up smoking, though they realize that the habit could affect their lungs.
The study was based on questionnaires filled in by adolescents between 13 to 19 years of age with two groups that were formed, those with asthma and those without.
- 22% of teens with asthma were found to be smokers
- 12% of teens who did not have asthma were found to be smokers
- Teens who began smoking before they turned 11 years believed that smoking aided in alleviating their anxiety and stress.
The study showed that teens with asthma had a greater dependency on nicotine than teens without asthma. The teenagers who were studied claimed that they knew that smoking was addictive and that it complicated breathing for people with asthma, but they still continued to smoke. They normally smoked early in the morning or when they were sick.
‘Smoking kills, irrespective of whether you have asthma or not’
Teen smoking is a common habit but one which can lead to far reaching health problems. It is estimated that 5.6 million youth in the U.S below the age of 18 years will die due to complications that arise due to smoking. 9 out of 10 teenagers below the age of 18 try out their first cigarette and 99.9% have tried it by the time they reach 26 years.
In India, the average age of initiation into tobacco use was 17.8, with 25% of females found to begin by the age of 25, according to WHO. The risk associated with smoking is not only for the person who smokes but also for passive smokers, who are forced to inhale the smoke.
How Smoking Can Affect Teens with Asthma?
Teens with asthma may have started smoking more out of curiosity than out of peer pressure than out of their own free will. Nevertheless, the effects of smoking on asthmatics are more severe than among people who are not asthmatic.
- Smoking results in an inflammation of the airways, constriction of the vessels as well as a sticky mucous in the vessels that affect breathing. The same symptoms are associated with asthma, therefore, smoking compounds the problem.
- Long-term medications that are taken by asthmatics to control their condition may be undone by smoking.
- Asthmatics who smoke will face increased number of flare ups that require immediate medical attention.
- The quality of sleep at night may be affected due to repeated coughing and difficulty in breathing.
- Playing sports requires a lot of breathing control and the ability to take in enough oxygen to be able to undergo the physical exertion. Unfortunately, the ability to breathe efficiently might be compromised in people who face frequent asthmatic flare ups, when such people smoke, it can affect the quality of the individual's ability to play sport.
Smoking is a harmful habit that has been found to be associated with lung, head and neck cancer , chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, stroke, wrinkles in the skin, change in color of lips and frequent infections of the respiratory tract. There are pictorial as well as written warnings that are listed on all cigarette packets, to create awareness and to ward off first time smokers. In the U.S, 440,000 people die due to smoking-related health problems which is preventable if the habit is stopped.
The current study that has found that a large number of teenage asthmatics take up smoking is an alarming fact that necessitates immediate action in the form of counseling and discussing better methods of stress relievers for teenagers. The effect of smoking may not be felt immediately, but the far reaching damage caused to the lung tissue can make recovery from an asthmatic flare up bleak.
Another trend that has been identified among teenagers who smoke, according to CDC, is that teenagers who use multiple cigarette brands are more likely to remain smokers even later on in their life. Recently, tobacco companies have begun to flavor cigarettes, giving them a unique taste that encourages more number of teenagers to experiment.
Teenagers with asthma may feel dejected about their condition and may have an increased urge to feel accepted by the rest of their peer group. This could be their main trigger for smoking. However, it is important to note that saying 'no' to cigarettes is saying 'yes' to a better quality of life.
- Youth and Tobacco Use - (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/)
- Tobacco use in India - (http://www.who.int/tobacco/surveillance/en_tfi_india_gats_fact_sheet.pdf)
- Cigarette Smoking and Asthma - (http://www.asthma.partners.org/newfiles/BoFAChapter30.html)
- Smoking and Asthma - (http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/smoking-asthma.html)
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