Tips for Teens: Tobacco (SAMHSA)

Tobacco—cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and snuff—damages your health. Smoking, which is the most common cause of lung cancer, is also a leading cause of cancer of the mouth, throat, bladder, pancreas, and kidneys. Over 8 percent—2.2 million—youths aged 12 to 17 used a tobacco product in the past month. Smokeless tobacco contains 28 ingredients that can cause cancer in your lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the top and bottom of your mouth.

Tobacco affects your body’s development. Smoking is particularly harmful for teens because your body is still growing and changing. The 200 known poisons in cigarette smoke affect your normal development and can cause life-threatening diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, heart disease, and stroke.

Tobacco is addictive. Cigarettes contain nicotine—a powerfully addictive substance. The younger a person starts smoking, the more likely he is to become strongly addicted to nicotine. Even though it is rare, addiction can occur after smoking as few as 100 cigarettes. Of adults who smoke cigarettes every day, 88 percent report that they started smoking by age 18.

A publication from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


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