Tobacco and Youth Toolkit (page 2)
By experimenting with tobacco, young people place themselves at risk for nicotine addiction. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and research has shown that people who start smoking in their early years:
- have more difficulty quitting
- are more likely to become heavy smokers
- are more likely to develop a smoking-related disease
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 83% of current smokers wish they had never started.
How Many Youth Actually Use Tobacco?
- The majority of Iowa youth do not use tobacco, but of all the new smokers in the state, children and teenagers constitute the majority. Every year 4,200 Iowans under the age of 18 become new, daily smokers. Twenty-two percent (37,100) of high school youth currently smoke and 14.9% (25,100) of all male high school students use smokeless tobacco.
- The tobacco industry spends $15.4 billion dollars annually on marketing with an estimated $192.1 million spent in Iowa. These campaigns seem to have special appeal to young people (age 12-17) as 83% of young smokers report that they use the three most heavily advertised brands: Marlboro, Camel, and Newport.
When do Youth Start Smoking?
- The age that a young person begins to smoke is critical because the younger a person is when he or she begins to smoke, the more likely he or she will continue to smoke.
What is the problem with tobacco and youth?
What Can Tobacco Use Lead To?
Cigarette smoking has been shown to causes heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, and cancers of the lung, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and bladder. Smokers are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which could include tooth loss and they experience reduced lung function. Smoking is also associated with hearing loss, vision problems, and increased headaches. Roughly one-third of all youth smokers will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease.
In addition to the obvious physical health concerns, smoking typically precedes other drug use and is associated with many other risky behaviors. For instance, teens who smoke are three times more likely to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. New research also indicates that tobacco use by youth may lead to increased depression or anxiety during late teenage years.
School absenteeism is associated with lower academic performance and poor social adjustment. And, students who are regular smokers are more likely to miss school due to illness than nonsmokers.
Access to Tobacco
All states have laws making it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. Yet, the CDC reports that nearly half (49%) of youth under the age of 18 who purchased or attempted to purchase cigarettes in a store or gas station during the 30 days preceding their 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey were not asked to show proof of age. In the same year, 69% of Iowa 11th grade students reported on the Iowa Youth Survey that it would be “easy or very easy” for them to get cigarettes in their community.
When the Iowa Legislature created the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, the importance of youth involvement in reducing tobacco use among young people in Iowa was stressed. Please keep this in mind as you and your group begin to analyze data and make plans to improve your local trends. Adults must work with young people in the community to understand and reach the best possible solutions for decreasing tobacco use among youth.
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