Do Teens Smoke Because of Peer Pressure or Anxiety?


Teen smoking is still an epidemic, but the primary reasons for it may be changing.

Teen addiction no longer comes from the peer pressures of old. There is an entirely new kind of pressure that has evolved, and more and more teens are smoking to relieve anxiety – and it’s not just cigarettes their smoking, either. So, which is it? Are teens smoking more out of peer pressure, or because of anxiety? The answer: it’s both. 

A Different Kind of Addiction

While smoking traditional cigarettes are still a problem, teen addiction has taken a whole new turn with the debut of e-cigarettes and the growing popularity of hookah smoking. Today’s peer pressure to smoke comes two prominent new angles: safety, and flavors. Teens are much more likely to smoke e-cigarettes (also known as “vaping”) if their peers are smoking because they are marketed as a safer cigarette that delivers that nicotine buzz, but without the tar. Plus, they come in flavors virtually targeted toward teens, like Blueberry Cobbler, Waffle, and Chocolate. 

As far as hookah smoking, this method of uses water pipes that utilize water vapor as a filter, and is held in sessions where teens pass around, and share, the same water pipe. Just as in e-cigs, flavors are generally infused into the smoke through the water vapor, and peer pressure to smoke in hookah sessions is even more intense: it is a social event centered solely around smoking. Proponents of hookah smoking try to convince teens that the water vapor makes it safer – however, this is far from true. 

But why do anxious teens feel the need to smoke at all?