Tobacco damages your health. Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. Smoking is also a leading cause of cancer of the mouth, throat, bladder, pancreas, and kidney. Smokeless tobacco can cause mouth cancer, tooth loss, and other health problems.
Tobacco affects your body's development. Smoking is particularly harmful for teens because your body is still growing and changing. The 200 known poisons in cigarette smoke affect your normal development and can cause life-threatening diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, heart disease, and stroke.
Tobacco is addictive. Cigarettes contain nicotine-a powerfully addictive substance. Three-quarters of young people who use tobacco daily continue to do so because they find it hard to quit.
Tobacco can kill you. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in this country. More than 400,000 Americans die from tobacco-related causes each year, and most of them began using tobacco before the age of 18.
Before You Risk It
Know the law. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or tobacco-related products.
Stay Informed. Addiction to tobacco is hard to control. More than 90 percent of teens who use tobacco daily experience at least one symptom of withdrawal when they try to quit.
Keep your edge. The poisons in cigarettes can affect your appearance. Smoking can dry your skin out and cause wrinkles. Some research even relates smoking to premature gray hair and hair loss.
Be aware. It can be hard to play sports if you use tobacco. Smoking causes shortness of breath and dizziness, and chewing tobacco causes dehydration.
Think of others. Smoking puts the health of your friends and family at risk. Approximately 3,000 nonsmokers die of lung cancer each year from breathing other peoples' smoke.
Get the facts. Each day more than 3,000 people under age 18 become regular smokers. That's more than 1 million teens per year. Roughly one-third of them will eventually die from a tobacco-related disease.
Look around you. Even though a lot of teens use tobacco, most don't. According to a 1998 study, less than 20 percent of teens are regular smokers. In fact, 64 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have never even tried a cigarette.
Bullying & Judging
Too often, people don't take bullying seriously. Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. It is aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated over time, and involves an imbalance of power or strength.
Studies show that between 15-25% of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency while 15-20% report that they bully others with some frequency. As many as 160,000 students may stay home from school on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied.
Bullying can take many forms, including physical bullying, such as hitting, punching, or shoving; verbal bullying, such as teasing, name-calling, or spreading bad rumors about people; nonverbal or emotional bullying, such as intimidating someone through gestures, keeping certain people out of a "group," or getting certain people to "gang up" on others; and cyber bulling, by sending insulting messages by e-mail.
Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely, anxious; have low self-esteem, feel unwell, and think about suicide. And young people who bully are more likely than those who don't bully to skip or drop out of school, vandalize property, smoke, drink alcohol, and get into fights. Sixty percent of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24.
Sadly, adults are often unaware of bullying problems. In one study, 70% of teachers believed they intervene "almost always" in bullying situations; only 25% of students agreed with this assessment. Parents, teachers, and other adults must do their part to create an atmosphere in which bullying is not tolerated.