Smoking For 10 Years - Major Risk For Health Problems Right Now?

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear Smoking For 10 Years - Major Risk For Health Problems Right Now?,

I am 18 years old and have been smoking cigarettes since roughly 10 years old. (Bad I know but this is not a place to pass judgement) it's been about 2 packs a week up until last year (16-17) then It went up to about a pack a day. My question is am I at risk for major health problems right now? I have odd headaches everyday and get nauseous all the time. I have constant back pain, but I also have had a d cup and larger size bra since the 5th grade. I'm not in danger obviously but am just curious. I guess all I'm wondering is if I could have current problems from the smoking. I have a history of heart and lung problems throughout my family.


Dear Smoking For 10 Years - Major Risk For Health Problems Right Now?,

TeenHealthFX is not here to pass judgment on you or anyone else using our site. Our purpose is to provide our users with the education and information they need so that they can make informed decisions when it comes to their health and well-being. FX certainly does have concerns about your smoking because of how it is currently impacting your health and how it will continue to do so as long as you are smoking – however, please know that a concern is very different from a criticism.

How smoking can affect you now and in the future:

There are many ways in which smoking is negatively impacting your health currently and setting you up for some serious problems down the road. According to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoking causes serious health problems among children and teens including:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • More frequent headaches
  • Increased phlegm (mucus)
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Worse cold and flu symptoms
  • Reduced physical fitness
  • Poor lung growth and function
  • Worse overall health
  • Addiction to nicotine

As they get older, teens who continue to smoke can expect problems like:

Taking care of your heart and lungs:

It would be great for everyone to take care of their heart and lungs, but if you know your family has a history of heart and lung diseases, then all the more reason to take care of your body and stay away from smoking. There are more than 7,000 chemicals found in the smoke from tobacco products. Many of these chemicals are poisonous. They include things like nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and nitrosamines.

  • Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema and bronchial disease.
  • Carbon monoxide causes heart problems, which is one reason why smokers are at high risk for heart disease.

A set-up for long-term smoking:

Part of what is dangerous about your smoking for the past 10 years is the odds of your continuing to smoke throughout your adult years, which will only increase the odds of various health problems associated with smoking. According to the ACS, the younger you are when you begin to smoke, the more likely you are to be an adult smoker. Almost 90% of adults who are regular smokers started at or before the age 19. And people who start smoking at younger ages are more likely to develop long-term nicotine addiction than people who start later in life.

Some additional facts on smoking:

DoSomething.org presents 11 Facts About Teen Smoking:

  • 90 percent of smokers began before the age 21.
     
  • Every day, almost 3,900 adolescents under 18 years of age try their first cigarette. More than 950 of them will become daily smokers.
     
  • About 30 percent of teen smokers will continue smoking and die early from a smoking-related disease.
     
  • Teen smokers are more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety disorders and depression.
     
  • 1 of 5 teenagers who are addicted to cigarettes smokes 13-15 a day.
     
  • Approximately 1.5 million packs of cigarettes are purchased for minors annually.
     
  • Smoking can age skin faster, second only to the effect sun exposure has on giving premature wrinkles.
     
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
     
  • According to the Surgeon General, teenagers who smoke are three times more likely to use alcohol, eight times more likely to smoke marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine.
     
  • The lungs of teens who smoke will not develop fully, which puts them at higher risk for lung disease.
     
  • In the United States, about 20 percent of teens consider themselves to be regular smokers.

 

Given all the ways in which smoking can affect your health (not to mention deplete your bank account!), FX does hope that you will consider stopping this habit and talking to your doctor about ways in which you can quit. This statement does not come from a place of judgment, but rather from a place of caring about your health and well-being.

  • If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.
  • For more information on quitting smoking, you can go the Quit Now article at BeTobaccoFree.gov.  You can also go to smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for more information.
  • For more information on smoking, go to the TeensHealth article on Smoking.

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