Underage Smoking needs to be Discouraged

Underage smokers are exposed to the risk of an early death

A film hero lighting up a cigarette and blowing the smoke on a woman’s face has been one of the coolest and glamorous scenes on celluloid. It is obvious that film stars smoking on screen have inspired generations of under aged smokers through decades. According to “The Guardian” Hollywood stars James Dean and Humphrey Bogart seldom appeared on screen without a cigarette. Likewise “screen beauties” Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich added sophistication to onscreen smoking.

If one gets an opportunity to visit Pakistan Tobacco Company’s website one would be surprised to see that the company is against underage smoking. The Website clearly shows that the company runs a “youth smoking prevention program” since 1998. Therefore underage smoking is not only dangerous for health but is also illegal. Underage smoking is a global issue as many children including teenagers either smoke cigarettes or use tobacco in one way or the other. As stated in the “Journal of Pakistan medical association” approximately 1,200 children start smoking on a daily basis. The report suggests that these underage smokers seem to be “depriving the country of a healthy workforce.” According to Dawn News dozens of school and college students in uniforms are often witnessed buying cigarettes in one of the streets in Karachi.

As stated in “The Guardian” Scotland had the highest rate of underage smokers during the last decade. According to recent reports UK is currently experiencing the lowest rate of underage smokers on record. Research suggests that the children who start smoking at an early age have more chances of remaining addicted and therefore are more likely to get tobacco related diseases.  According to CDC News Room’s survey US High Schools have experienced the lowest rate of underage smokers last year whereas e-cigarettes are still popular among students. The report further informed that smoking cigarettes among US school students last year was lowest in 23 years.

According to “Journal of Pakistan medical association” there are various reasons for underage smoking but arguably children whose parents, siblings or friends smoke are more likely to smoke. The report also indicates that children with one smoking parent also have more probability of smoking. Children with at least one smoking parent have higher chances of progressing to higher levels of smoking as compared to “children whose parents do not smoke.” According to a report from “Centers for Disease Control” smokers usually begin to smoke between 13 to 15 years of age. This report was compiled on the data collected from “more than 170, 000 young teens in 61 countries.”  The study further suggests that in Timor- Leste, 61 percent of boys in their early teens smoke cigarettes whereas 29 percent girls in Bulgaria smoke. As a result of this survey children in 51 countries were asked if they wanted to quit smoking. Surprisingly more than half of the children in 40 countries said that they wanted to stop smoking.

According to a report published in a leading newspaper most of the teens do not smoke because they are addicted to nicotine. However, the desire of weight loss compels teenagers to frequently smoke. The report indicates that 46% of girls and 30% of boys smoke as they feel the need to slim down. It further stated that overweight girls are more likely to smoke as compared to overweight boys who are less pressurized by the society to lose weight.

According to the World Health Organization’s report Bollywood has significantly encouraged smoking among teens in the last decade and a half.  The WHO report stated that three out of four movies in the last decade and a half had stars smoking on screen.  United Nations health study in 2003 asserted that films produced in the last ten years had shown tobacco use mostly cigarettes.

Likewise on screen smoking in Pakistani TV serials running on private channels also encourage young teens to light up cigarettes in real life. Underage smoking must be discouraged for a better tomorrow.

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