Sample Task II Essay Based on the Pilot Regents Questions 

Teenage Smoking

There is an epidemic on the rise in the youth of America today. Researchers conclude that teenage smoking rates, after declining and leveling off in the 1970’s and 1980’s has increased sharply in the last five years.  The tobacco industry, its critics, and are teenagers themselves, all have ideas about the factors that influence smoking.

The tobacco industry attributes the increase to “a broad range of social forces”. The industry says that other drug-use and risk-taking procedures by teenagers have risen more sharply than tobacco use. The industry also believes that teenage smoking has increased because of the rebellious attitudes of teens towards increasing efforts to stop them from smoking. The industry’s critics, however, disagree with this hypothesis. The critics believe that the industry’s huge increase is spreading on domestic advertising and promotions for 361 million in 1970, to $4.83 billion in 1994, is to blame. Most of the money goes into promotions that encourage stores to run sales or more prominently display particular brands and signs.  Spending by the industry increased most rapidly in the 1980’s when the decline in youth smoking was halted.  Children are also attracted to the advertising campaigns that use “Joe Camel” or the Marlboro man”.  The giving-away of items, such as T-shirts for the accumulation of coupons received when buying cigarettes, also attracts teens. Phillip Morris even created a record company to promote his “Virginia Slims” brand that is a draw to teens.  Hollywood’s use of cigarettes and cigars is also becoming more prevalent and is subliminally encouraging teens to take up smoking because it is trendy and “cool".

Teenagers say that a desire to be cool is often a reason young smokers try cigarettes. Teenagers also say that smoking is a way to relieve stress, stay thin, and a way to fill time.  Teenagers also say they were drawn to smoking because of their desire to do something forbidden.

This trend in teenage smoking must end. The increased smoking codes are expected to translate into additional early deaths due to tobacco-related illnesses. This trend can be ended by increasing the cost of cigarettes making them too expensive for teens to buy. Hollywood should also place a ban on the use of cigarettes in cigars in their films, so as not to project the message that smoking is cool.  More awareness can be made to teens about the effect that smoking will have-on their bodies in the future.  The tobacco industry should also not be allowed to use advertising which is intended to draw teens to their products. This epidemic of increased smoking in teens must end and it takes an effort by all to end it.  Join the battle to end teen smoking!