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Kids And Smoking: Why Do Kids Start Smoking

Smoking is a ticking time bomb for South African children, and Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, is sounding the alarm.


Despite strict laws to prevent selling tobacco products to minors, many young people can still access cigarettes and other tobacco products. The consequences of smoking at a young age can be devastating, increasing the risk of health problems later in life.


In light of 31 May being World No Tobacco Day, Affinity reiterates the importance of parents, educators, and policymakers working together to address this issue and ensure our children have a healthy, smoke-free future.

Health Risks of Children Smoking

Children who smoke are at risk for several serious health problems, including the following. 

Respiratory problems – Smoking can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It can also lead to asthma and other respiratory problems.

Cardiovascular disease – Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Cancer – Smoking is a leading cause of lung, throat, and mouth cancer. Children who smoke are at increased risk of developing these cancers later in life.

Dental problems – Smoking can cause yellow teeth, bad breath, and gum disease. It can also lead to tooth loss and oral cancer.

Reduced athletic performance – Smoking can reduce lung capacity and endurance, making it harder for children to participate in sports and other physical activities.

Addiction – Nicotine is highly addictive, and children who start smoking are at risk of becoming addicted and continuing to smoke throughout their lives.

“It’s important to remember that the effects of smoking can be long-lasting and even life-threatening. By preventing children from starting to smoke, we can help protect their health and set them up for a lifetime of wellness,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

Reasons Why Kids Start Smoking

The use of tobacco products among children is a complex issue with many factors at play. For many young people, these factors may include the following. 

Peer Pressure

One of the main reasons why kids start smoking is peer pressure. Children and teenagers must often fit in with their peers and may start smoking to feel accepted or cool. They may also be influenced by older siblings or friends who smoke.


Media Influence

Another reason why kids start smoking is due to media influence. Movies, TV shows, and advertisements often depict smoking as cool, attractive, and glamorous. Children may see their favourite celebrities smoking and want to imitate them.

Stress and Anxiety

Children and teenagers may also start smoking to cope with stress and anxiety. Smoking can temporarily escape the pressures of school, family, and social life.



Some kids may start smoking as a form of rebellion against authority figures such as parents or teachers. They may feel that smoking is a way to express their independence and identity.

5 Ways Parents Can Help

Parents can play a crucial role in preventing their children from starting to smoke. Here are five ways you can help your child nip the habit in the bud:

1.      Start the conversation early: It’s important to talk to your children about the dangers of smoking at an early age. Make sure they understand the risks associated with smoking and the impact it can have on their health.

2.      Be a good role model: If you smoke, quitting is essential. Children are more likely to smoke if their parents smoke. If your parents smoke around their grandchildren, they should also be encouraged to quit. For more tips on how seniors can stop smoking, click here.


3.      Talk about peer pressure: Make sure your children understand it’s okay to say no to smoking, even if their friends are doing it. Encourage them to find other ways to fit in with their peers.

4.  Encourage healthy coping mechanisms: Help your children find healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as exercise, meditation, or talking to a trusted adult.


5.      Monitor media exposure: Monitor the media your children are exposed to and talk to them about the harmful influence of smoking on their health.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health insurance provider, offering you a range of options, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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