Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in women in the United States. Of the more than 140,000 women who die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses each year, 80 percent began smoking while they were adolescents. Evidence demonstrates that young people who begin to use tobacco do not understand the nature of the addiction and, as a result, believe they will be able to avoid the harmful consequences of tobacco use. These adolescents do not realize the long-term effects of their actions.
Smoking by Girls: .
Each day in the United Stated about 1,500 girls being smoking. Nearly all first use of tobacco occurs before high school graduation. .
Since 1991, cigarette smoking by adolescents has risen annually. The 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimates that 20 percent of youths aged 12-17 (4.5 million adolescents) were current smokers in 1995. In 1994, the rate was 18.9 percent.
Approximately 1 of 5 teenage girls now smoke. .
Why Do Girls Smoke? .
When most girls begin smoking, they are usually caught up in the moment, in the immediate experience of what appears to be a "cool," "adult," or even "glamorous" behavior. They are naive about the powerful addictive nature of nicotine, which, for some adolescents, takes hold after only a few cigarettes. For example: .
Combined 1991 and 1992 data from the National Health Interview Survey show that 76 percent of young women smokers ages 12 to 24 years say they feel dependent on cigarettes. Among those who had tried to quit smoking during the 12 months preceding the survey, 82 percent were unable to do so. .
Health Effects of Smoking The Short-Term Effects of Smoking include: .
Nicotine Addiction. The younger an adolescent is when she begins to smoke, the more severe her level of nicotine addiction is likely to be. .
Respiratory Problems. Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence causes an increase in cough and phlegm production, an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses, decreased physical fitness, and potential retardation in the rate of lung growth and in the level of maximum lung function.