“Where I live, it’s rare to meet someone under the age of 25 who hasn’t ever smoked or vaped.”—Julia.
In this article
What you should know
Cigarettes are deadly. Nicotine—the main agent in tobacco—is a toxic substance that is highly addictive. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tobacco use is a major preventable cause of premature death and disease worldwide.”
“I work in the medical field as a sonographer, and I have seen ultrasound images showing the impact that smoking has on patients. The amount of plaque buildup in the arteries of former smokers is astounding. I respect my body too much to try smoking.”—Theresa.
Did you know? Cigarettes contain some 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. Each year, millions of people die from tobacco-related illnesses.
Vaping exposes the user to toxic chemicals. Vaping, or using vape pens or electronic cigarettes, has been linked to lung injury and death. Also, like cigarettes, many vape products contain nicotine. Because it is highly addictive, nicotine can “prime young brains for addiction to other drugs,” says a fact sheet on e-cigarettes.
“Vape products with names such as cotton candy and cherry bomb have sweet flavors, which especially appeal to children and teenagers. The taste makes them ignore the risk.”—Miranda.
Did you know? The vapor from e-cigarettes is not just water. It contains particles of harmful substances—often including heavy metals—which are transferred to your lungs.
Risks associated with smoking and vaping
(1) Impaired cognition as well as attention and mood problems, especially in developing brains
(2) Inflamed gums as well as tooth cavities
(3) Chronic lung inflammation and heart disease
Upset stomach and nausea
What you can do
Get informed. Don’t accept everything you hear—for example, that vaping is harmless or that it’s a good way to relieve stress. Do your own research, and make an informed decision.
Bible principle: “The naive person believes every word, but the shrewd one ponders each step.”—Proverbs 14:15.
“When you think about the negative effects of smoking and vaping, you see that more is involved than the ‘fun’ that celebrities or your peers seem to have while doing it.”—Evan.
To think about: Are young people who smoke or vape really happier? Are they better prepared to face life’s stresses—both now and in the future? Or are they sowing the seeds for more problems?
Find productive ways to deal with anxiety. Good ways to reduce anxiety include healthy activities, such as exercising, reading, or having a good time with friends who build you up. Because you have many good things to focus on, you won’t feel a need to smoke.
Bible principle: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.”—Proverbs 12:25.
“People think that smoking and vaping are stress relievers. But, at best, these things provide only temporary relief, and they have lasting bad effects. There are better ways to deal with stress.”—Angela.
To think about: What are some ways that you can deal with stress effectively? If you need help, see the “Young People Ask” article “How Can I Deal With Anxiety?”
Be prepared to handle peer pressure. It can come from your schoolmates or even through your entertainment. Movies, TV shows, and social media often make smoking and vaping seem cool and fun.
Bible principle: “Mature people . . . have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”—Hebrews 5:14.
“When I was at school, many of my peers respected me for not smoking or vaping. Once I made my stand clear, they even defended me. So, strange as it may seem, making your stand known can be a protection.”—Anna.
To think about: How well can you resist peer pressure? Can you think of instances where you have done so? If you need help in this area, see the “Peer-Pressure Planner” in chapter 15 of Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2.
Choose your friends carefully. You will be less tempted to smoke or vape if your friends feel the same way you do about these practices.
Bible principle: “Be friends with those who are wise, and you will become wise. Choose fools to be your friends, and you will have trouble.”—Proverbs 13:20, Easy-to-Read Version.
“It really helps to be friends with people who have qualities like self-control and integrity. When you see how well things go for them, you are motivated to be like them.”—Calvin.
To think about: Do your closest friends support your resolve to live a clean and healthy lifestyle, or do they tend to weaken it?
What about marijuana?
Many people say that marijuana is harmless. But that’s a lie!
Young people who use marijuana risk becoming addicted to it. Studies suggest that marijuana use can permanently damage your brain, which may include reducing your IQ.
According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.”
“I was tempted to smoke marijuana, mostly because I wanted relief from my anxiety. But when I thought about the addiction that could come from it, the money I would have to spend on it, and the effects that it would have on my health, I realized that smoking marijuana would only make my anxiety worse.”—Judah.