A teen's first cigarette usually comes from a friend. Peer pressure has tremendous impact on a young person's decision to experiment with cigarettes, according to Teen Smoking. Sometimes, teens start smoking because a friend dares them to. Other teens who are trying to find themselves experiment with cigarettes and become addicted. Smoking is also viewed as an act of rebellion and a way to demonstrate independence.
The media has a major impact on a teen's decision to smoke. Teens are likely to experiment with different personas as they try to discover themselves. Smoking is portrayed as glamorous, sexy and macho in the mass media. Movies portray smoking as living the high life and being "cool." The National Cancer Institute cites a study that clearly associates teen smoking with portrayal of smoking in the movies. In fact, the researchers of the study found that out of all factors influencing teens to smoke, portrayal of smoking in the movies was the most significant risk factor.
Advertisements are designed to have a strong influence on people, and teenagers are no exception. Even if cigarette advertisements are geared toward adults, teenagers also may look to these advertisements as being glamorous, according to Teen Smoking. Cigarettes are the most advertised item second to cars, according to the University of Florida. Movies and television programs also may portray cool or iconic characters as smoking, which can influence teens to want to be like these celebrities.
Sense of Immortality
The health risks seem very distant to teens who have little life experience. Lung cancer, chronic cough and other diseases seem like "old people's diseases." Teens have an overall sense of invincibility and are more likely to participate in high-risk behaviors. They don't comprehend the difficulty involved in quitting and believe that they can stop whenever they want to.
Role Models Who Smoke
When teens' family members--such as parents or...