Tobacco UseThe vast majority of people using tobacco today began doing so when they were adolescents. Prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors (under 18 years) and increasing the price of tobacco products through higher taxes, banning tobacco advertising and ensuring smoke-free environments are crucial. Globally, at least 1 in 10 adolescents aged 13–15 years uses tobacco, although there are areas where this figure is much higher.According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 25% of high school students use some kind of tobacco product, and nearly 4,000 kids under age 18 try their first cigarette every day. In fact, 9 out of 10 smokers had started smoking before they finished high school. This means that if children can stay smoke-free in school, they will probably never smoke.

More than 90,000 people die each year from heart diseases caused by smoking. Among young people who would otherwise have a very low risk of heart disease, cigarette smoking may cause as many as 75 percent of the cases of heart disease. And, the longer a person smokes, the higher the risk of heart disease.

How does smoking affect the heart?

Better known for increasing your risk of lung cancer, cigarette and tobacco smoking also increase the risk of heart disease and peripheral vascular disease (disease in the vessels that supply blood to the arms and legs).

Most teens who smoke are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine narrows the blood vessels and puts an added strain on the heart. Even when teens want to quit smoking, the nicotine addiction makes it very hard, and they go through the same withdrawal symptoms that adults do.

Although nicotine is the main active agent in cigarette smoke, other chemicals and compounds like tar and carbon monoxide are also harmful to the heart. Research has shown that smoking increases heart rate, tightens major arteries, and can create irregularities in the timing of heartbeats, all of which make the heart work harder. Chemicals in cigarette and tobacco smoke lead to the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, possibly by injuring the vessel walls. These chemicals also affect cholesterol and levels of fibrinogen, which is a blood-clotting material. This increases the risk of a blood clot that can lead to a heart attack.

How can I discourage my child from smoking?

  • Talk to them about the bad effects of smoking, such as yellow teeth, bad breath, smelly clothes, and shortness of breath. If your child likes to play sports, tell him or her how smoking can damage the lungs and reduce the supply of oxygen that the muscles need to work properly.
  • Talk openly with your child about the dangers of smoking.
  • Compliment teens who do not smoke. In a survey by the CDC, results showed that more young people do not smoke than do. The majority of teens polled said that they thought smoking was unattractive and that they would not date someone who smokes.
  • Be a role model for your child. If you smoke, quit. And do not allow others to smoke in your home.

How can I help my child quit smoking?

  • Advise them on how to quit, but be helpful and supportive.
  • Help them figure out the reasons why they should quit, such as living longer; lowering their chances of heart attack, stroke, or cancer; and having more money to spend on things other than cigarettes.
  • If you smoke, agree to quit with them. About half of all teen smokers have parents who smoke.
  • Have your child see a doctor for advice on how to quit.

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death.