Cite this article

NIDA. (2010, September 14). Real Teens Ask: Why Do Teens Who Smoke Think They Are So Cool?. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
September 14 2010
Neon sign that says Cool
Image Courtesy of Frippy

Many teens have questions about drugs. On Drug Facts Chat Day, NIDA scientists get to listen in and answer these questions from students all across the country. Here’s one fromzippy do dafrom Kingswood Middle School in New Hampshire:

"Why do teens who smoke think they are so cool?"

There could be many reasons why teens who smoke think they’re cool: maybe their friends smoke, maybe their parents told them not to smoke, maybe they think it gives them an edgy look, or a temporary high. But the truth is, as far as your health goes, smoking is so not cool.

And who defines cool anyway? What’s cool to one person may not be cool to another. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, coolness is an individual decision. Not everyone thinks that doing something illegal or unhealthy, just because your friends are doing it, is cool. Lots of teens would say it's cooler to hold a pen, paintbrush, or drum stick between your fingers, instead of a cigarette.

When our parents were younger, many of them thought “the Fonz” from the hit TV show "Happy Days" was the epitome of cool. Pretty dorky now.

Smoking among teens is lower than ever

Today it seems like a lot of teen smokers are figuring out that smoking is not very cool at all. According to a 2007 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 percent of all high school smokers are actively trying to quit. And, according to the recent NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future study of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, smoking among American teens is at an all time low.

Coolness is a funny thing. Some things are cool one year (or one minute!), and not the next. Other things are cool no matter how much time has passed. What’s cool is also influenced by your gender, age, where you live, and, most of all, by who you are.

Check out how one high school student examined the cool factor as a science fair project; it even won her a cool prize. But don’t take our word for it—you decide.