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Adolescence and Smoking: Reasons, Factors and Effects

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Adolescence is a time in someone’s life that can shape the future and who they are as a person. Introduce smoking –a highly addictive habit- to an adolescent at this time of rapid growth and change, that could negatively impact their life forever. Despite the fact that not all adolescence choose to smoke, for the ones that do, it can cause serious health problems in the future, and even negatively affect them shortly after or during the process of smoking. Four notable sources who have all come up with valid explanations of adolescence and smoking include Sang-hee Park, MD who discusses the rise of and possible reasons for adolescence smoking, Sylvia Bonino, Elena Cattelino, and Sylvia Ciairano who provides insight about the relation of adolescent smoking and rites of passage, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention which talks about how tobacco or nicotine use in any form is unsafe, especially for adolescents, and Heather Wagner who focusses on the reasons youth may feel inclined to begin smoking, and also provides some reasons as to why no one – especially adolescence – should smoke. Altogether, each source came up with very similar points regarding adolescent and smoking, but one thing that was very consistent in each of the sources work was that adolescents smoking is very often influenced by peers and a want/need to feel excepted.

To begin, Park (2011) discusses the rise of and possible reasons for adolescent smoking. Park (2011) says that based off of surveys in 1994 in 2007, the smoking rate of adolescence in Korea increased from 21.2% in 1994 to 27.9% in 2007. She also notes that by gender, more males and females smoke with the smoking rate for males going from 30.5% to 33.5% and for females the rate going from 12.2% to 21.7%. Park (2011) points out however, that though the smoking rate for males is bigger than females, The smoking rate increased way more than males from 1994 to 2007. According to 1976 studies, 72% of high school students in New York State has experienced cigarette smoking. The source also pulled some information from a study that said 52.3% of Americans aged 8 to 17 years old has tried a cigarette before. Out of the 52.3%, 50.1% of that group has tried a cigarette before the age of 12. She also speaks on some risk factors of smoking which include family history. For this, she stated that the frequency of smoking rises when the adolescent is surrounded by smokers in the family. Parents especially can influence adolescence because parents are their kids’ main role models so the attitude the parent has about smoking may reflect off of the adolescent’s behaviour and influence them to smoke. This is especially true when the child has grown up in an environment where they’re constantly seeing smoking going on, because they could begin to think that it is okay to do. Companionship is another risk factor that Park (2011) brought up in her article. She said that if many of the adolescence friends are smoking, they may be more likely to participate as well. This case is more evident in students who joined a new friend group who smokes often or transfer schools where the smoking rate is high because they may feel they have to smoke in order to fit in and be excepted. The last risk factor that the source explains is personal characteristics. What this means is that everyone believes in different values, has different attitudes towards things, and a different surrounding environment. All these things can influence an adolescent’s perception of cigarettes which determines whether or not they take the first Drag. It can be noted that in this article, Park (2011) uses statistics from Korea which are not relevant if someone wanted to study only North American statistics. Another problem with this article is that all references and statistics used are prior to 2010 which is outdated and may not be as accurate now. However, the article as a whole is very informative packed with plenty of statistics that well represent the rise of adolescence smoking. A course connection from this article is behaviorism. One of the risk factors listed is the amount of people in the adolescent’s family or peer group that smoke. The explanation for why the adolescents might begin smoking is because if they’re constantly exposed to smoking at home, and then they go to school and their friends are doing it as well, the teen may adapt to it and begin doing it themselves because they have learned to smoke from seeing it all the time and they begin to think that it is okay. Another course connection from this article is cognitive psychology. A teen having their first cigarette sometimes depends on how the teen perceives cigarettes. If they think that they are bad, gross, unhealthy and associate it with other bad characteristics then they won’t try it, but if they think cigarettes are cool, glamorous, and not harmful, then that would lead them to try smoking. It all depends on how the adolescence perceives smoking which is what cognitive psychology is about.

The second source evaluated is by Bonino, Cattelina, and Ciairano (2005). Their main topic of discussion was about the relation of adolescent smoking and rites of passage. Some points that stood out included the fact that the actions involved with smoking contain a series of ritual behaviour types that include lighting another cigarette and passing around the lighter. The authors also point out that smoking around peers often emerges as a rite of passage and smoking is a socially excepted behaviour among adults so in the eyes of teens, mimicking this behaviour takes them from being a child to being more of an adult. Some other points made in this article about smoking cigarettes is that it is often explicitly requested by social groups in order to be accepted, making these types of behaviour actual rites of belonging. Looking even deeper than rites of passage, smoking seems to be a ritualized way to create relationships with in a group, which brings the members of the group closer. Some main functions of smoking include the anticipation of adulthood, by imitating the adult behaviour which in this case is smoking, rites of passage, and a bonding ritual. This article is different from the other three because it looks at a different perspective about adolescent smoking and brings up points that the other two articles did not. Although this article is very good at giving the reader a different perspective of why adolescence start smoking, it isn’t an article that would be beneficial to start your research with. Another thing to look at for this article is that these observations were all made in 2005, when smoking was at a higher rate, so now this may not be as true with other adolescents in today’s society. One last thing to know is that there is no factual support for these points made and it is more of an opinion, so it may not be very accurate. A course connection for this article is anticipatory socialization. Anticipatory socialization is concerned with teaching the individual how to plan ahead behaviour for new situations, and some teens smoke because of anticipation of adulthood, by imitating adult behavior.

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“Youth and Tobacco Use” (2018) will be the third article evaluated in this literature review. This article talks about how tobacco or nicotine use in any form is unsafe, especially for adolescents. The points made in this article were that if people continue to smoke as much as they are now, then 5.6 million people under the age of 18 will die from a smoking-related illness. About 9 out of 10 of cigarette smokers had their first cigarette by the age of 18. Every day in the United States, over 3,200 adolescents aged 18 years or younger smoke for the first time, and an additional 2,100 young adults become habitual smokers. Some factors associated with youth smoking is social and physical environments. This is the way the media portrays tobacco use as a common and normal thing to do which can promote smoking among young people. Adolescents are also more likely to use tobacco if they see that tobacco use is common with their friends. Parental smoking can also promote smoking to their kids because if a kid grows up in an environment where their parents are always smoking, the kid could pick up that habit as well and think that it is okay since their parents do it. Another factor is biological and genetic aspects, there is proof that adolescents may be sensitive to nicotine and that teens can get addicted to nicotine quicker than adults, and genetic factors may make quitting smoking more difficult for teens, a mother’s smoking during pregnancy may increase the likelihood that her child will become a regular smoker. The last factor is mental health. There is a strong relationship between youth smoking and depression, anxiety, and stress. This may be because adolescents think that smoking can help them cope and forget about their issues, and then they become dependent on the tobacco to constantly make them feel better. Some social and environmental factors can be related to lower smoking levels among adolescents. Some examples are religious participation, racial or ethnic pride and strong racial identity, and higher academic achievement and hopes for the future. This article is very similar to the first article mentioned by Park (2011). Both of these articles talk about what may cause a teen to begin smoking in the first place, and both articles had the same points except this article mentioned one thing that Park (2011) did not. That was the fact that teens may begin smoking to cope with their mental issues. This article was very different from Bonino, Cattelina and Ciairano (2005) because this article talks more about all of the different risk factors for teens and smoking cigarettes while the other article really focuses in on rites of passage and smoking without mentioning any other reasons why a teen may begin to smoke. This article is very reliable, with 12 references from reputable websites. This source is also very plentiful in statistics which support the points well. A course connection that can be made with this article is classic conditioning. Before the adolescence starts smoking, the cigarette is just a neutral stimulus. In fact, the whole act of smoking is a neutral stimulus (taking the pack out, going outside and lighting up the cigarette). But once the adolescent becomes addicted, they associate getting out the lighter, and going outside with the rush of nicotine and dopamine that goes to the brain when they smoke a cigarette, which is the unconditioned stimulus. The act of smoking then becomes the conditioned stimulus, and the craving of the cigarette is the conditioned response.

The last article to be evaluated is by Wagner (2003). In this article, Wagner (2003) focusses on the reasons why youth may feel inclined to start smoking in the first place, and provides some reasoning as to why smoking is not a healthy act. The points that the author made in this article are that teens may begin smoking because it can be a way to show their independence, a way to communicate that no adult can make their decisions for them. It may be a way to rebel against adults and the rules. Teens may choose to smoke if they are influenced by advertisements, since marketing of cigarettes is intended to make it look like if you smoke, you’ll live a happier, more glamorous lifestyle. Teens can start smoking if a family member smokes. If you grow up in a house where one or both parents smoke, their patterns and behaviour may determine the decisions you make about whether you smoke. Teens with poor grades, low self esteem, that come from single parent families, that come from low income households, who have suffered abuse, and have grown up in a violent household are all more likely to smoke than their peers. The problem with teens who smoke is that they don’t know the risks and think that the negative affects of smoking will come in 40 or 50 years. They assume that they will be able to stop smoking before it can harm them in an way but in reality, they end up becoming addicted and not being able to quit smoking. There was a study done of adolescents who smoked over 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and most of the teens wanted to quit but were not able to because they were already addicted after just 100 cigarettes. Some reasons to quit not smoke in the first place include your health. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, cancer of the mouth, bladder, throat, kidney, and pancreas. Teens who smoke say they have difficulty maintaining the same level of physical activity and endurance as they had before they began smoking. Your body’s development is another reason to not smoke. Smoking while you’re still growing and changing can affect your body’s growth. Smoking also affects the development of the lungs. You can become addicted because the younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to become addicted to nicotine. The way it affects your looks. You may believe smoking makes you look more glamourous, but within a few years smoking seriously changes the way you look. It stains your teeth, can stain your fingertips, it causes premature wrinkling to your face, causes bad breath, and your hair and clothes will smell of stale tobacco smoke. This book is quite similar to Park (2011) and “Youth and Tobacco Use” (2018). These three articles are quite similar because all three of them discusses in depth the reasons why teenagers might engage in smoking at their age. One difference that this article has from the other two is that this not only discusses different risk factors, but also reasons why some youth don’t want to smoke. This article is quite different from Bonino, Cattelina and Ciairano (2005) since that article looks at rites of passage only while this article discusses some statistics, risk factors and reasons why youth shouldn’t smoke. Overall, this article is very detailed with a substantial amount of reliable sources, but one problem is that it is outdated, so many of the statistics are not accurate. However, this article makes up for it by offering information on risk factors and some reasons why not to smoke which are still very valid today. Discussing the parts of our subconscious mind known as the superego and the id is one way to connect this article to the course. The id involves our animalistic, selfish impulses. Smoking is an impulse that originates in the id because a smoker does it for the rush of nicotine to the brain that they get. Even though they know its not healthy for themselves and others around them, they still do it because they want to feel good from the does of nicotine they get.

To conclude, Park (2011), Bonino, Cattelina, and Ciairano (2005), “Youth and Tobacco Use” (2018), and Wagner (2003) all raise some great ideas about the relation of adolescents and smoking with peers and a want to feel accepted. In the future, something that would be interesting to research is if the rates of smoking in adolescence is going down, and if so, why is it going down and is their an alternative that adolescents are using to replace cigarettes? Overall, based off this secondary research, smoking is not beneficial in any way to adolescents, despite what they may think it is doing to their health. By coming up with more ways to prevent smoking and treat addictions maybe one day we could have a smoke free world.

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Adolescence and Smoking: Reasons, Factors and Effects. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“Adolescence and Smoking: Reasons, Factors and Effects.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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