Despite dozens of studies and decades of research proving the hazards of smoking, it is still remarkably common to see someone lighting up a cigarette on the streets of Bangkok. Tobacco is plentiful in Thailand and, compared to most Western countries, staggeringly cheap. It’s also more tolerated in public places than in the European Union or North America. Although lighting up is still strictly forbidden in public transportation or restaurants, it’s not uncommon to see people having a smoke in bars, clubs or lounges. And unlike some countries, smoking is still seen as generally socially acceptable.
The danger of this is that it’s all too easy for teenagers in Bangkok to get ahold of cigarettes and start smoking. Once they do, it’s a whole lot harder to stop. If you suspect that your teen might be doing so, it’s important to take them aside and remind them of just how serious the health risks are. Here are some of the facts:
- Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. By damaging and narrowing blood vessels, smoking raises blood pressure and can lead to blood clots and coronary failure. Even if your teen is only an occasional smoker, they’re still at risk. Smokers who go through less than five cigarettes a day can still suffer early heart problems.
- Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Roughly 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths are a direct result of smoking. To put that in perspective, lung cancer kills more women each year than breast cancer. Smoking also leads to other crippling lung conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. As if that weren’t bad enough, smoking increases the risk of just about every other kind of cancer as well.
- Smoking increases the risk of a stroke. Blood clots and constricted vessels can also result in a stroke, another leading cause of death.
- There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, many of them toxic or carcinogenic. Your teen may think that they’re immune to addiction or that smoking one or two cigarettes won’t make a difference. However, the chemical components in cigarettes are designed to be both psychologically and physically addictive — and they aren’t always easy to resist.
- Smoking causes more deaths each year than alcohol, firearm-related accidents, motor vehicle accidents and HIV/AIDS combined. That statistic alone should be enough to make your teenager think twice before starting to take their first drag.
- Smoking hookah is even worse than smoking cigarettes. Although it may smell sweet and fruity, hookahs or shishas are no less dangerous. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.” Make sure your teen knows that before the next time they head over to Nana with friends.
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored content from Samitivej International Children’s Hospital, and it is reprinted here with permission of the hospital.