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revised June 15, 2017

Arrow BulletWhy People Smoke

The tobacco industry makes smoking seem more common than it actually is.

Smoking can easily turn into an addiction. Stop others from smoking before they start.

Common reasons for smoking
Why Kids Start Smoking
When Kids Start Smoking
Where Kids Get Cigarettes
Some Kids Can’t Quit Smoking
Stopping others from smoking
Thinking about Quitting Smoking

Common reasons for smoking

People smoke…

  • …as a way of coping with negative emotions or feelings.1
    Smoking helps many people deal with anger, anxiety, sadness and stress.
  • …to lose weight or stay thin.
    Smoking does NOT help people lose or control their weight. Only healthy eating and active living will help you reach a healthy weight and make you feel good about yourself.2
  • …to socialize with others.
    Time spent between working and being in class — such as coffee breaks and breaks between classes — reinforce smoking.

Why kids start smoking

Young people start smoking because…

  • …their friends smoke.
    More than 70% of teens who smoke say peer pressure or having friends who smoke is the number one reason they started smoking.3
  • …they want to feel more “grown up.”
    The excitement of mimicking “adult” activities can convince a young person to try smoking.4
  • …the tobacco industry makes it seem normal.
    The tobacco industry tirelessly promotes to young people, making smoking seem more common than it is.

When kids start smoking

  • Nearly 70% of Peel students had their “first smoke” in or before Grade 9.5

Where kids get cigarettes

  • Most (49%) of the youth smokers in Peel (students in Grades 7 – 12 between the ages of 12 – 19) get their cigarettes from a friend or someone else.5

Some kids canít quit smoking

  • Nicotine addiction is very powerful. Quitting smoking is NOT easy, no matter how determined you are to quit.
  • Teens can get addicted to smoking only a few weeks after the first cigarette.6
  • Most people who start smoking as teenagers will continue.8

Stopping others from smoking

Smoking can easily turn into an addiction. Stop others from smoking before they start.

  • Be a positive influence by living a smoke-free life. Make your home and car smoke-free. Don’t let anyone smoke in your home or in your car at any time for any reason.
  • Visit our Peel Public Health Resources page for more ways to help someone quit smoking, or stop others from smoking in the first place.


1 Canadian Cancer Society, 2007. For Smokers who Don’t Want to Quit - One Step at a Time

2 Health Canada - Tobacco Youth Zone, 2008: “The Scoop (on Smoking)”.

3 Canadian Lung Association, 2008: “Smoking and Tobacco”.

4 Health Canada, 2006: A Proposal to Regulate the Display and Promotion of Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Products at Retail – Consultation Document

5 Region of Peel, 2005: Student Health 2005: Gauging the health of Peel’s youth

6 Joseph R. DiFranza, MD; Judith A. Savageau, MPH; Kenneth Fletcher, PhD et al. (2007). Symptoms of Tobacco Dependence After Brief Intermittent Use: The Development and Assessment of Nicotine Dependence in Youth–2 Study. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 161(7):704-710.

7 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2008: “About Tobacco.”

8 The Lung Association, 2003: “Lungs Are For Life

9 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2007: Drug Use Among Ontario Students 1997 - 2007 [PDF]

10 Statistics Canada, 2008: “Table 105-0501: Canadian Community Health Survey (CCS)”.

11 Health Canada, 2006: “Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) 2006.”

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Revised: June 15, 2017

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