Harmful Smoking Effects for Teens

There are harmful smoking effects for teens, more so than for people who start smoking at an older age. Smoking ages your skin, causes yellow teeth, puts you at a greater risk for respiratory infections and eats away at bone density. Heart disease and lung cancer may seem like distant concerns to teens, but the things people do during their teen years can have a profound impact on health in adulthood.

Teens who don't quit smoking could find themselves facing several health issues:

  • Fertility problems: Smoking can impact sexual health in both men and women. For teen girls who are using any form of hormone-based birth control, including the patch and the pill, the risk of heart attacks and some types of cancer increases. Boys who smoke have an increased risk of impotence in the adult years.
  • Bad skin: Nicotine and other toxins in cigarettes can cause problems, and these toxins start to affect the body almost immediately. Smoking restricts blood vessels, preventing oxygen and other nutrients from getting to the skin. This causes the skin to age faster, promoting wrinkles.
  • Bad breath: Cigarette smoking may cause halitosis, or persistent bad breath.
  • Reduced athletic performance: Many teens are involved in sports, singing or the band or orchestra in school. Because the lungs cannot be used to full capacity, athletes and teens involved in other activities may suffer rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation and shortness of breath, causing reduced performance.
  • Increased risk of illness: Teens are at school all day, usually with hundreds of other students. Illnesses such as the common cold and the flu are contracted easily in such a setting. Teens who smoke reduce their ability to fight off these diseases and may take longer to heal.
  • Yellow teeth: The nicotine in cigarettes stains the teeth yellow. Over time, smoking can cause gum disease and oral cancer.

Because the body devlops rapidly during the teen years, the effects of smoking get worse for those who start early. There's no safe amount of cigarettes a person can smoke. Even if teens feel healthy, smoking could be paving a road toward long-term illnesses in the adult years. The best advice for teens is to stay away from nicotine in all its forms, and to stop smoking cigarettes completely, even if it's just a cigarette every once in a while.

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