When youngsters aged 13–14 yrs try their first cigarette, most of them are not aware of the possible risk they are exposed to. Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use. Long-term health consequences of youth smoking is reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood.
Cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those who have never smoked. Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth. Smoking hurts young people's physical fitness in terms of both performance and endurance, even among young people trained in competitive running. Teenage smokers suffer from shortness of breath almost three times as often and produce phlegm more than twice as often as teenagers that do not smoke. Teenage smokers are more likely to have seen a doctor or other health professionals for an emotional or psychological complaint. Teenagers who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol. Smoking is associated with a host of other “risky” behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex.
The tobacco industry has used enormous amounts of money on advertisements for cigarettes. The European Union has recently passed a “law” which from the year 2003, forbids advertisements for tobacco. Several examples of how the tobacco industry targets teenagers are apparent. Recently, inside papers from the tobacco industry have revealed how cigarettes have been manipulated, to become a better starter product, by using additives.
A complex set of personal factors were related to smoking such as a reduced level of self-esteem and poor attitudes to family, school and community. There are some psychosocial factors associated with smoking initiation such as peer smoking, smoking in the immediate environment and other social and psychological factors. Preventing the initiation of smoking in teenagers could be achieved if they received information about the adverse health effects of cigarettes.
The lower rates of smoking for student athletes may be related to a number of factors:
1) Greater self-confidence gained from sports participation
2) Additional counseling from coaching staff about smoking
3) reduced peer influences about smoking
4) Perceptions about reduced sports performance because of smoking
5) Greater awareness about the health consequences of smoking. Answers, with regards causal relationships, cannot be obtained from cross-sectional studies.
Thus, other internal factors might be influential. High participation in sport might be selected by the more healthy subjects with better personal and psychosocial recourses.