Talking To Teens About Tobacco Use
What’s It All About?
Cigarette smoking rates among Washington teens in 2002 dropped to their lowest level in the past several years. While this is great news, there is still much work to do. Tobacco use is a major cause of premature death and considered the single most preventable cause of death in this country. So, teen tobacco use is a major public health concern.
Why Does It Matter?
Tobacco Use Causes Disease
Tobacco use causes cancer, heart, and lung diseases. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have low birth-weight babies. Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma and cause lung cancer. One in 5 deaths in the U.S. are caused by tobacco
Smoking Impairs Development And Reduces Good Health
Teen tobacco use impairs how the lungs grow and function, increases respiratory illnesses and helps cardiovascular diseases develop. Smoking also hurts young people’s physical fitness in both performance and endurance.
Smoking Is Not Cool
Tobacco use causes stained teeth, bad breath and foul smelling hair and clothes. Long-term tobacco use can lead to gum disease and tooth loss as well as mouth and throat cancers.
Links To Other Risks
Teens who smoke cigarettes are more likely to take risks such as ignoring seat belts, getting into fights, and carrying weapons than teens who do not smoke.
Tobacco Is Addictive
The likelihood of becoming addicted to nicotine after any exposure is higher than it is for other addictive substances including heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. The earlier a person starts smoking, the greater the risk to his or her health and the harder it is to quit. About 80% of adult smokers began smoking at or before age 18.
Smokeless Tobacco, too!
Adolescent users of smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, snuff) are more likely than nonusers to become cigarette smokers. Smokeless tobacco use increases the risk of oral cancer.
What Are The Details?
- Each day in the U.S. nearly 6,000 young people under the age of 18 will try a cigarette and nearly 3,000 will become regular smokers. In Washington, 55 kids start smoking every day.
- More than 6.4 million U.S. adolescents living today will die prematurely because they chose to smoke as teens.
- More students experiment with smoking as they get older. According to the 2002 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, about 5% of 6th graders say that they had tried cigarettes at some point in their lives while about half of 12th graders report his behavior.
- Among all grades surveyed in Washington, cigarette use decreased from 1998 to 2002. However, about 1-in-4 12th grade students say they had smoked cigarettes in the past month and more than 1-in-8 say they smoked on more than 20 of the past 30 days.
- Of the 12th graders in Washington who smoked cigarettes in the past month, more than half had their first cigarette before age 14.
- About 1-in-12 10th graders and 1-in-10 12th graders in Washington used tobacco on school property in the past month.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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