Since I first arrived at State College one thing that surprised me was how many students smoke or use smokeless tobacco products. I’m from a small suburban town so rarely did I ever see individuals casually smoking in large public crowds, especially not teenagers. I have become so used to seeing people smoke cigarettes at State College that I’m starting to become numb to it, almost forgetting that it is an extremely dangerous habit. My whole life I have heard over and over not to smoke, and I’m sure everyone who does can say the same thing. We all know that it is dangerous, but just how dangerous is it for a growing teenager? Also, what other social, financial or psychological effects come along with it?
According to Smoke Free Teen, teenagers are much more susceptible to nicotine addiction than older individuals. Since the brain is still developing, only small amounts of nicotine are required to produce an addiction. The harsh chemicals contained in cigarettes alter the growth of a teens prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking and decision making. Along with the brain, many other parts of an adolescences’ body are still developing that become affected by cigarette smoking. Nerve damage is extremely common in young smokers which could cause loss of vision or hearing later on in life. Smoking can also lead to increased heart stress, blood clots, inflammation of the lungs, belly fat, erectile disfunction, weakened immune system, and disrupted bone growth. All of these dangers only increase in younger smokers. By picking up this habit at such an early age, the younger generation is setting themselves up for medical complications as they grow older.
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. This is something we have learned our whole lives. However, i started wondering about the financial impact that smoking has on a Penn State student. From walking around town and observing the advertisements for tobacco brands I concluded that the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is around $6. I also think it’s fair to assume that someone who has been smoking for a while probably goes through roughly one pack every two days, or around 10-12 cigarettes a day. Given the average cost per pack and the average purchase rate for a smoker, it is fair to assume that they could end up spending around $1,100 a year on cigarettes. That is an absurd number, one that will only increase the more a person smokes. For someone on a college budget, $1,000 can make a huge difference in their quality of living. That amount of money could pay for someones books, feed them for a few months, or allow them to buy items necessary for a decent lifestyle.
No matter how you look at it smoking is awful for you. The health impacts are devastating. Smoking is constantly one of the main causes of death in the United States. For a college student, smoking at such a young age can have costly impacts on the development of your mind and body. The financial impacts are just as bad, the habit is not only costly for your health but also for your budget. It is shocking that so many students continue to smoke despite the extreme risks. One thing is for sure, the more educated we are as a generation the less lives smoking will claim.