Question: I continuously hear about the effects of cigarettes and the damage they cause. My husband died 2 years ago from an oral cancer that his dentist first discovered. He suffered tremendously and now I believe my granddaughter is smoking. I have fear that these cigarettes will eventually harm her. I don’t know what to do but need to do something.
Answer: I am sorry that you lost your husband from this deadly and extremely contagious habit. Here are some statistics that concur with your concerns. Unfortunately, there are many factors that oppose parents and concerned grandparents such as yourself.
Unlike other companies that manufacture consumer goods, tobacco companies do not compete by cutting prices. They compete on the public’s emotional level by creating enticing images that people wish to pursue for themselves. Kids are particularly vulnerable to these seductive images. They believe that if they smoke they’ll appear thinner, more glamorous, more macho, more mature. And unfortunately, what starts out as adventurous experimentation often results in a deadly addiction.
- Each day, over 3,300 kids become regular smokers. Of these, one-third will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.
- The average age for first-time smoking is twelve. Joe Camel is this decade’s single most effective ad campaign targeting children; this smoking cartoon character was found to be as recognizable to kids as Mickey Mouse.
- Each day, at least 4,800 adolescents (age 11 to 17) try their first cigarette. The number climbs to 5,500 if you include youth 18 to 20 years old.
- Four and a half million kids between the ages of 12 and 17 are regular smokers.
- Unless current rates are reversed, more than five million children under the age of 18 will die from diseases related to smoking.
- Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking at or before age eighteen.
- Tobacco marketing is a major factor in persuading kids to begin smoking twice as influential as peer pressure, the culprit the tobacco industry usually seeks to blame.
- The most popular brands of cigarettes among youth Marlboro, Camel and Newport account for 86 percent of the teenage cigarette market. These brands are also the most heavily advertised, portraying images of slim, attractive young women and rugged, handsome men.
- Tobacco is considered to be a “gateway drug.” This means its use is likely to pave the way for use of other illicit drugs. About 65 percent of cocaine users started by smoking cigarettes, and about 50 percent followed tobacco use with alcohol and marijuana.
- Seventy percent of teens who smoke report that they are addicted and regret ever having started.
It is basically a war that we are faced with and the best influence you can have on your granddaughter is to be honest but not come across as lecturing. What are her parents view of smoking? You may need to get them involved. You may want to get her dentist the heads up and he/she can give her information that may help to influence her to make a decision that would affect her for the rest of her life.
To answer any questions you may have, please contact me at DrAntolak@TheGentleDentist.com or call the office at (586)247-3500.
Shelby Township Dentist Explains Why Smoking is Harmful