U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin released her report called “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults” on March 8 with details on the influences and consequences of the more than 3.6 million youth who use tobacco.
Tobacco use in all its forms is the leading cause of premature (and preventable) death. Tobacco is associated with the deaths of over 1,200 Americans each day.
At the same time one individual dies from tobacco use, two more youth or young adults become smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those youth, 90 percent smoke their first cigarette before or at age 18.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009, allows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products through age and identification verification requirements, restrictions on the sale of single cigarettes, and bans on candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes.
“The addictive power of nicotine makes tobacco use much more than a passing phase for most teens. We now know smoking causes immediate physical damage, some of which is permanent,” Benjamin said in a statement. “Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don’t want our children to start something now that they won’t be able to change later in life.”
Attached to the report is a guide called “We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free,” filled with information on how Americans can battle the enormous smoking trend among youth. The CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health has plans to launch a nationa challenge to get youth and young adults to create short videos highlighting one or more elements of the tobacco use report. For more information, visit www.Challenge.gov.