Identify a social, environmental, or political problem that is of local, national, or global concern
Identify a Social, Environmental, or Political Problem that is of Local, National, or Global Concern.
The smoking of cigarettes among adolescents is an escalating problem among the young teenagers and the society as a whole. This problem primarily results from peer pressure, rebellion or image, youthful naiveté, family environment of the affected adolescents, and cultural messages in the media. Cigarette smoking among the youth in society is identified among the major social problems that mirror the primary health issues in our country. Research shows that about three thousand five hundred adolescents smoked for the first time between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. Among the 3500 adolescents, 1100 of them have a high likelihood of becoming habitual smokers. Almost three-quarters of first-time tobacco smokers have their first experience of smoking when they are in the adolescent state. The younger individuals are when they start this habit, the more likely it is for them to become adult smokers. Out of every four habitual adolescent smokers, three have tried to quit and failed (Green, 1979). Furthermore, smokers who begin at an early age have a higher probability of contracting smoking-related diseases early in life.
The primary contributing factor leading to adolescents engaging in cigarette smoking is pressure from their peers. If a classmate, friend, or someone close to you pushes you to engage in activity that you did not want to do, then you have experienced peer pressure first hand. The firm influence of the peer group those adolescents hang out with pushes a substantial number of the adolescents to commence cigarette smoking to integrate with a particular group. The impact of pressure from peer groups on individuals is also primarily dependent on ethnicity: white adolescents are more easily influenced by those peer groups in comparison to other adolescents from other ethnic groups. The FDA reported in the year 1997 that teenagers between the ages of thirteen and fifteen were majorly pressured by their peers who smoke to try their first cigarette (Lockwood, 2009). A further twenty-seven studies supported this finding by portraying a great correlation between adolescent tobacco use and social and peer bonding, smoking among peers, peer group approval, and the offers and easy access to cigarettes. This finding means that adolescents begin smoking at an early age due to the influence that they get primarily from their peers. Most of these adolescents believe that smoking helps in making friends and that if they participate in cigarette smoking, then they would be easily integrated into the circle of buddies. Some of the teens who partake in cigarette smoking feel mature when they are hanging around other adolescents who do not smoke.
Some adolescents start smoking due to their rebellious nature or an image that they want to maintain. Many adolescents may smoke because they perceive it to be cool. Some teens tend to smoke because they are trying to lose weight or feel better about themselves. Most adolescents also have a tendency to experiment on smoking during their rebellious phase due to its readily available nature. Many teens also try smoking cigarettes because they are bored and tend to have too much free time on their hands.
Adolescents are most often than not influenced by what they see on the television. When teens see other famous young adults such as musicians, entertainers, and celebrities smoke in some TV episodes, they get easily influenced and are prone to give it a try (Williams, 2000). These celebrities make smoking seem more popular than it is. Tobacco companies, on the other hand, have invested a lot of money and time to find the most efficient ways to reach the adolescents. These tobacco companies are banned from showing advertisements, but they still influence the content of the media in more subtle ways to influence cigarette smoking.
Youthful naiveté is another primary contributing factor to smoking in adolescents. These young adolescents have a trusting and simple way in which they view the world at large. They tend to believe strongly that no harm would come upon them when it comes to the health effects of smoking. These adolescents would assume that those health diseases concerned with smoking would happen to other people and not them. Cancer, cataracts, or heart disease does not typically happen to their friends who smoke or smokers around them. This view will change if the said adolescent is to have a neighbor or relative who suffers from smoking-related issues.
Some other adolescents commence smoking because siblings and parents influence is quoted as one of the leading factors that influence said adolescents to smoke. In California, research involving about 15000 adolescents was done and the resulting observation was that the family unit had more impact on adolescents regarding smoking as opposed to the pressure from the peers (Reid, 2005). It was determined that adolescents who have family members who smoke were more prone to experiment on smoking cigarettes or even go on to become regular smokers themselves. This observation is because parents, uncles, older siblings and other family members are role models for the adolescents. Thus, if both parents smoke cigarettes, then it is highly likely that their adolescent would give smoking a try at an earlier age than other teenagers. Another family issue that may cause adolescents to is where the parents are too busy to spend time with their teenage kids. Adolescents with absentee parents, or neglected adolescents, are four times more likely to try cigarette smoking than those adolescents living with regularly present parents who offer a lifestyle that is structured.
Another factor in the family environment that influences adolescents to smoke is having family problems such as financial problems. These family issues bring about tension in the home. This tension, on the other hand, elevates the stress levels of the adolescents. Since smoking cigarettes is perceived as a kind of stress reliever, these adolescents may go into smoking to deal with the stress from home. Adolescents who come from single-parent families are also more prone to smoking. Adolescents who attain poor grades in school also tend to smoke because of the high-stress levels and low self-esteem that they are experiencing. Some adolescents from low-income family backgrounds also tend to feel that life is meaningless since they do not see a chance for a brighter future. These adolescents wound be more prone to smoking than their counterparts since they do not care much for the future. Therefore, some of these adolescents start smoking due to stress, low-income levels of the family, and tension levels that are exposed to them in their day to day activities.
In conclusion, a combination of all these factors results in an increased risk of smoking in adolescents. A focus on one of the factors cannot be duly emphasized as none of these factors work in isolation. Thus, smoking in adolescents is a major problem that is primarily caused by the issues discussed, but nit only limited to the factors mentioned as there are other many reasons for this problem.
Green, D. (1979). Teenage smoking: Immediate and long-term patterns. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, National Institute of Education, Program on Educational Policy and Organization.
Lockwood, V. (2009). FDA regulation of tobacco products. New York: Nova Science.
Reid, R. (2005). Globalizing tobacco control anti-smoking campaigns in California, France, and Japan. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press
Williams, M. (2000). Teen smoking. San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
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