Does smoking really affect the skin, making it age faster? I am only 16, but I will quit now if this is true.

We are happy to supply you with more than enough reasons to quit smoking now. First, let us list the health factors as they cannot be emphasized enough. Smoking slows the healing of cuts and wounds, depletes the body’s supply of vitamins B and C; increases the risk of heart disease and cancers of the lips, throat and lungs; constricts the blood vessels and inhibits circulation; limits the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood by replacing it with carbon monoxide. There are many cosmetic effects as well: staining of the hands, tongue, teeth; bad breath and a lingering odor on the skin, hair and clothes. Smoking contributes to wrinkling around the eyes and mouth; dulls the complexion, robbing it of its youthful glow; speeds the breakdown of the collagen fibres which are partly responsible for moisture retention and the suppleness of the skin. All of this means that, yes, it does speed up the aging process of the skin, and besides all that it’s very expensive.

There are many support groups with programs to help people quit smoking. Perhaps, if you see the need, you could speak to a teacher or guidance counsellor about having such a program in your school.