According to the World Health Organization, self-esteem, self-image and tobacco use are directly linked. Adolescents who smoke tend to have low self-esteem, and low expectations for future achievement. Often they see smoking as a way to cope with the feelings of stress, anxiety and depression that stem from a lack of self-confidence. Adolescents who see cigarettes as a way to handle negative feelings are more likely to ignore the long-term health consequences of smoking. Young non-smokers, on the other hand, tend to have higher self-esteem than teens that smoke. Teen’s attitudes towards their friends, classmates, boyfriends and girlfriends who smoke can make a difference to their own likelihood of smoking. Studies have shown that the single most direct influence on smoking among young teens is the smoking habits of their five best friends. Girls with a best friend who smokes are nine times likelier to become smokers themselves than those with non-smoking best friends.
Some teens believe that smoking cigarettes makes them appear more mature or “cool.” Role models who smoke are frequently seen as tough, sociable and attractive. For these teens, smoking is an attempt to improve the way they’re perceived by friends and peers. This attitude is not lost on tobacco advertisers, who portray smoking as a proof of maturity, sophistication, popularity and attractiveness. Studies have shown that when teens react positively to this strategy and believe that smoking will help them attain their goals, these new smokers are likely to continue smoking.
If a sour smell wafts by, and you recognize it as smoke from a cigarette, then you are secondhand smoking. Of course you aren’t smoking, but actually, secondhand smoking can be even worse in some cases. Smoking causes lung cancer and such, and when secondhand smoking, you are breathing in someone else’s breath. Maybe you’ll get a less harmful set of lung cancer, but second hand smoke could result in other nastier cases.
For example, in New York City, while I was trudging through snow down the sidewalk, I saw a man smoking. He was leaning on the wall, and a homeless person next to him was huddled on the ground. The homeless person suddenly started choking, gagging, and hacking. He obviously couldn’t breath because of the smoke. I left the scene at once, but I guessed that the choking was so severe that he might have ended up in the hospital.
If you want to avoid secondhand smoking, first, don’t start smoking at all. If you smoke, you not only hurt yourself, but you also are making people around you secondhand smoke. Secondly, if you are near someone smoking, be sure to hold your breath or cover your mouth. If you have a choice, just leave the area.
Source: Johnathan Samet and Soon-Young Yoon (Eds.), “Women and the Tobacco Epidemic: Challenges for the 21st Century.” The World Health Organization, 2001. Pages 55, 57.