Why Kids Start

Almost 70% of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 18. Most smokers try their first cigarette around the age of 11, and many are addicted by the time they turn 14.  So why do kids start smoking in the first place?   

  • Their parents are smokers.
  • Peer pressure – their friends encourage them to try cigarettes, and to keep smoking.
  • They see smoking as a way of rebelling and showing independence.
  • They think that everyone else is smoking, and that they should, too.
  • Tobacco advertising targets teenagers.

The majority of children in elementary school and the early part of middle school have never tried a cigarette. Most will tell you that they will never smoke cigarettes. But as they get older, some will become more open to the idea of smoking.

Cigarette companies shape their advertising campaigns to portray smokers as cool, sexy, independent, fun, attractive, and living on the edge – images that are appealing to many teens. As a result, they try smoking and many get hooked. Only 5% of high-school-age smokers believe they'll still be smoking 5 years after graduation but they don't understand how difficult quitting can be. Research shows that after 8 years, 75% of those smokers will still be using some form of tobacco.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 22, 2009, contains several provisions aimed at preventing young people from starting to smoke. >> Learn More