Our generation’s children have been rapidly maturing- but not in a sophisticated way. Sex, drugs and alchol are all starting to become the norm among teenagers, which will have a very bad effect on our future . Though people are starting to get used to the idea of underage drinking and sex, universally , not many people familiarize with underage smoking. Every nation of course has the problem of adolescants consuming cigarettes but in some countries it has come to a point where adults nonchalantly sell cigarette packets to 12 year olds on a daily basis. Sadly, our country, Turkey is one of them.
Already in the top 40 for countries with highest cigarette consumption, Turkey has many underage smokers; 20.1% of high School students [That is 722 thousand 274 students] smoke, which is a huge amount of youngsters.
We have conducted a mini research on 67 highschool students and 44.77% have admitted on trying smoking, 28.35 % still smoke, and 17.9% carry a packet with them . We have then conducted an in-depth interview with two underage smokers, asking for their honest opinions on the matter. First we asked when and how they started smoking, “I was going to 8th grade when I first started smoking. I tried it while I was with my friend and since then I’ve been smoking everyday. I smoke less during the weekdays because of school, however, in the weekends I smoke a pack of cigarettes per day.” Then to decifer the underlying reasons of underage smoking’s popularity in Turkey we continued drilling. The three main reasons evidently seemed to be that of Turkey’s culture, supermarket’s giving out packets without asking for an ID and peer pressure. To confirm this, we then asked if they thought their country’s culture had an impact on them; “Although it is forbidden to sell cigarettes to people who are younger than 18 , in Turkey no one is submissive to the rules. This is one of the main reasons why young adults start smoking. If I wasn’t living in Turkey, I probably wouldn’t be smoking because other countries are more obedient to the rules.” Another 16-year old quoted, “In my opinion, so many people start smoking in Turkey because they don’t want to be outsiders, and usually these people are wannabes, they smoke to be like someone else. I would probably still be smoking if I wasn’t living in Turkey, however, I cannot say the same things about the popular wannabes.”
Underage smoking will create nothing but problems for Turkey, ranging from health, education, economy and the country’s over-all image. One wonders how the health system will afford all the illnesses that will emanate from a youth smoking and how the state will cope with a generation striving to look rebellious and cool, ending up being addicted and economically depleted.Wether underage smoking will rapidly grow or slowly abate is up to them.