Why do youth use tobacco?
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There are many reasons youth may start using tobacco products (and other substances). One of the main reasons is peer pressure. It’s important to know that peer pressure can on take different forms. In some cases, it may result from their peers directly telling them they “should” smoke, or “must” use a vape to fit in. However, it may be indirect. Many youths have said that simply being around people who are using a substance, without being verbally pressured, still led them to feel pressure to use it.
Some of the most common reasons youth experiment with, or use, tobacco products include:
- peer pressure (direct or implied)
- it’s become a normalized behaviour (e.g., seeing friends and family using it makes it seem acceptable and normal)
When it comes to the continued use of tobacco products, it can be due to an addiction or dependency. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, which acts quickly in the bloodstream. Just as quickly as its effects are felt, they disappear. Nicotine acts on the brain, causing a release of dopamine and a small rush of adrenaline which speeds up the heart rate. These effects wear off in a few minutes, until the next hit of nicotine enters the body. The body adapts to nicotine, making the user increase the amount and frequency they use tobacco products. Users can also develop a physical and emotional addiction to the act of smoking.
The younger someone starts smoking, the more likely they are to develop a nicotine addiction. The longer someone is exposed to the harmful chemicals and toxins in tobacco products, they more likely they are to experience negative health effects.