Senior business administration student Noah Lewis started smoking when he was 16. “I was just curious. I guess that’s why I started. I wanted to experience something new,” Lewis said.
Matt Jones, spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the teenage population of smokers is not going down.
“We are concerned with the 18 to 24-year-old age group because they have a relatively high smoking population,” Jones said in a phone interview. “A vast majority start smoking before they are 18. They may feel like it makes them look older or more mature.”
The American Cancer Society’s website states there are more than 40 million people in the United States who have made the decision at some time in their lives to quit smoking. However, quitting is hard because nicotine is as addictive as heroine and cocaine.
“I’ve tried to quit, but tobacco is like a drug; it’s addictive,” Lewis said. “It is also a drug that is so loosely regulated and so convenient to get. That makes it even harder to quit.”
“Whatever reason people start, it’s considerably more difficult to stop,” Jones said. “About 70 percent of Americans who smoke want to quit, but a smaller percentage are actually able to obtain abstinence.”
Lewis, who smokes pipes and cigarettes, said he does not quite know what smoking does to his body, but he knows some damage is there.
“I know what my pipe looks like after two weeks without cleaning it, so I know something nasty is going on in my body,” he said.
Junior public affairs major Camus Mitchell knows first hand the negative effects smoking can have on the body.
“I used to smoke cigarettes until I developed an awful sore throat. I mean, it was painful for me to eat, talk or swallow. This unbearable pain lasted for about five days. I know I got it from smoking cigarettes because I had smoked several the night before. It was so bad. I mean, it felt like I could taste the cancer resting in my throat. It was terrible,” Mitchell said.
Jones said smoking is responsible for about 87 percent of lung cancer and heart disease.
“It increases a person’s coughing, phlegm production, shortness of breath and wheezing,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site offers tips for people wanting to quit.
“We advocate the use of different methods like nicotine inhalers and nicotine gum,” Jones said. “Our studies have shown them to be of pretty good success. Those, along with telephone counseling, can increase chances to quit much more.”
For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov.