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Underage Smoking Gets Intense and What Parents can Do About It

Farid Jaafar, head of Youth Infinity at the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre believes that enforcement strategies is not enough to weed out smoking among teenagers in Singapore. It has been 6 years of battle for him to minimize the worsening cases of underage smoking in the country. For the past decade, he was able to counsel 200 underage smokers, some as young as in primary schools.

Mr. Farid explained that today’s generation is prone to risk-taking behaviors. Most of them are influenced by peers and they are being pulled to try different explorations including smoking.

“Just because there is legal enforcement, it doesn’t mean it will scare them away from smoking,” he added.

Cigarette smoking
It can be recalled that HPB has rolled out its anti-smoking campaign among youth in Singapore along with FSCs or Family Service Centres and Youth Organizations or YOs, yet  the population of smokers continues to expand.

The counselor believes that giving a sincere focus on smokers through group work or follow-ups could make a really huge difference. He further assured that working one-on-one with underage smokers can influence them to slowly stop smoking. He also proposed the importance of discussing social issues like peer pressure in school apart from talking about the health risks caused by smoking to young adults.

Top Reasons Why Teenagers Smoke

“11 Facts about Teen Smoking” from www.dosomething.org reveals that 90% of smokers began before the age 21 and that about 30% of teen smokers will continue smoking and die early from a smoking-related disease. Both of these facts are reinforced by everyday situations where we encounter teens who seem to enjoy the puff of cigarette at any time of the day. But why do teens smoke?

Here is a compilation of the reasons behind underage smoking as based from different studies:

  1. According to Alberta Health Services on “Why Teens Smoke”, stress, control of weight and boredom turns young adults to smoking. However, the study also found out that the biggest reason behind early age smoking is peer influence – teens smoke because their friends do it.

Teen pressure

  1. www.eSchoolToday.com reveals almost the same reason behind teen smoking: to fit community or a gang, to escape stress, to feel grown up and to relieve boredom. Their experiment also added curiosity as one of the reasons behind early age smoking.
  2. Jerry Shaw, an American publisher also shares his findings on teenage smoking www.livestrong.com. According to his article “What are the Causes of Smoking among Teens”, peers and rebellion tops the list of reasons of underage smoking in America.

How to Know if your Child is Smoking?

Do you ever suspect that your child is smoking? If you are starting to feel some misbehaviors and notice drastic changes on his physique, chances are your child might be into the bad habit of smoking.

Here are some signs to know if your children are smoking as based from ParentFurther findings:

  1. You can right away tell by the awful smell of cigarette from their breath. They keep mouthwash, breath mints and chewing gums inside their bags.
  2. Windows are open in the bedroom for no reason.
  3. Allowance for school is never enough as they are secretly spending some bucks for cigarette packs.
  4. They have friends who smoke.
  5. They frequently escape the house for a minute without telling you.
  6. You find lighters or matches hidden on their bed, closets or bags.

It would be best to gently confront your children as soon as you notice the above situations on them. Parent’s instant reaction might be intense anger but bear in mind that anger begets anger, especially in teenage kids. Seek to understand their plight and use the soft approach, which normally works better.

How to Prevent your Child From Smoking?

As a concerned parent, you must do something as soon as you notice the early signs of smoking in your children. Mayo Clinic provides a list of things a parent should do to make a child smoke-free.

  1. Be a good example to your children. Parents who smoke oftentimes have kids who smoke – they follow what parents do. If you dislike your kids smoking, it’s simple, set a good example, don’t smoke.
  2. Say no to smoking. Always tell them how unhappy you are to see them smoke. Discuss the issue with your children and make them understand the effects of the bad habit to their health, environment and other people.
  3. Remind your children about vanity. Truly, smoking can make you feel old and smelly. Smoking gives bad breath and wrinkles. Remind your kids that their physical appearance may be badly impacted with constant smoking.
  4. Discuss savings. Make your kids understand that buying cigarettes can hurt their savings. Help them realize the amount of cash they waste away by buying packs of cigarette. It would help to compare the cost of smoking to getting gadgets or clothes or even travel with friends to make them visualize.

Harmful Effects of Smoking

One of the most common causes of death among people is lung cancer which is often brought about by severe smoking. Many smokers may not feel it but every puff of cigarette is another damage to the overall system, targeting the lungs. According to www.dosomething.org, the lungs of teens who smoke will not develop fully which puts them at higher risk for lung disease. And if smoking habit continues for their entire lifetime, lifespan would fall short by 20 years. So instead of living long and healthy, they would die young and mostly, impaired.

Here are some of the most degrading effects of smoking according to Better Health Channel:

A. To Health

  1. Smoking affects your respiratory system – severely. Long-term smoking can irritate the trachea causing rough cough every other minute. It can reduce the lung function with leads to breathlessness as the lung swells and narrows. It impairs the lung’s clearance system due to the poisonous substances of tobacco which includes tar, hydrogen cyanide and metals.

Sickness due to Smoking

  1. Smoking brings damage to the immune system. People who smoke are more susceptible to infections such as influenza and pneumonia.
  2. Smoking can give health risks to musculoskeletal system. It can tighten the bone muscles and reduce bone density. Most smokers are often pale.
  3. With continuous smoking, male smokers may experience low sperm count and high percentage of deformed sperm which will then lead to impotence.
  4. Cigarette smoking can also cause reduced fertility to females. It can abrupt their normal menstrual cycles and make them reach menopausal stage 2 years earlier than expected.

B. To Environment

Smoking doesn’t only destroy human body, its harmful effects also expands to killing the environment. Among the most known effects of tobacco to the environment are:

  1. Air pollution
  2. Forest destruction
  3. Start of bushfires
  4. Death of marine animals

According to Oxygen.org.au, everytime a smoker puff a cigarette, chemicals are released to the atmosphere thus, polluting the air. Cigarette butt also contains harmful substances that could also kill them minerals in a healthy soil. As much as possible, smokers should dispose cigarette butt on trash cans.

The harmful effects of smoking to the body is often irreversible thus, one should really think through before making it a habit. The world is spreading awareness on the harmful effects of smoking. At the moment, more than 20 world organizations are setup to fight against smoking.


Smoking, at any instance, should be avoided especially for teens who still look forward to finishing studies with flying colors and admitting to excellent workplaces. To parents with teenagers who smoke, it is a matter of communication – approach your kids and help them understand that smoking can get their health badly hurt.

At a young age, it is important for these teens to have proper guidance not only from school but also from the family and community. For smokers, stop smoking. For those who are curious to try it – forget. Smoking can get you nowhere but a gloomy trajectory.

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