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Why Do Kids Smoke? Analyzed Using Sutherland's Differential Association Theory Tool.

2361 words - 9 pages

Why do kids really smoke? It's not because of what a tobacco company does, but rather because of what kids' friends do. Sociologists, child psychologists, and other experts agree that peer influence, the need to establish independence, and lack of parental involvement are the main reasons kids smoke.As young people try to shape their own identities, they face tremendous pressures. They copy hairstyles, clothing, and behaviors, including smoking. They want to do what their friends are doing. They want to be more grown-up because they believe there are fewer rules to follow. What needs to be done is raise the self-esteem of young people. Also, give them tools to handle the wave of pressures and temptations that wash over them as they make the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 3,000 young people become regular smokers every day, that totals more than one million new young smokers a year. (CDC, 2003) Many of these teens will continue to smoke regularly as adults, increasing their risk of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.The CDC (2003) also reports that, 'Teen smoking is often an early warning sign of future problems. Teens who smoke are three times as likely as nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times as likely to use marijuana, and 22 times as likely to use cocaine. Smoking is also associated with numerous other high risk behaviors, including fighting and having unprotected sex." (CDC, 2003)Teen smoking is the social phenomenon that will be addressed within this paper. The topic will be defined and further analyzed through Edwin Sutherland's Differential Association Theory. Sutherland's theory tool is an excellent tool for this phenomenon as it breaks down the process in which youth learn to become tobacco users.Cigarette smoking among youth has shown considerable fluctuation since the mid-1970s, having first fallen, then remained stable, then raised again, and most recently declined. Additionally, the trends differ drastically between race and ethnic groups, the largest declines are occurring among Blacks and Hispanics. With the harm of smoking and the likelihood of teen smokers continuing the habit for decades to come, these trends have generated much interest. Despite speculation about the possible role of changes in individual characteristics that promote smoking and of larger-level changes in cultural norms, social strain, media influence, and cigarette prices, tests of such claims are rare. Generally, research done is to show trends and not explanations of teen smoking.Cigarette and smoking facts as published by the CDC. 28.5 percent of high school students currently smoke cigarettes. This figure is down from 36.4 percent in 1997 and 34.8 percent in 1999. (CDC, 2001) "Current smoking is defined as having smoked on one or more days of the 30 days preceding the survey." (CDC, 2001) If teen smoking prevalence...

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