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Counselors & Teachers
Teaching Tips for Talking to Youth About Living Tobacco-Free
Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. — if smoking continues at the current rate, 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely of tobacco-related illness. Most smokers first tried smoking before the age of 18. In 2017, about 3.6 Million U.S. middle and high school students were using tobacco products, and about half were using two or more products.
Living tobacco-free reduces a person’s risk of developing heart disease, various cancers, chronic pulmonary disease, periodontal disease, asthma, and other diseases and of dying prematurely. Tobacco-free living means avoiding use of all types of tobacco products — such as cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipes, and hookahs — and also living free from secondhand-smoke exposure.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are increasing in popularity among youth. The look of e-cigarettes is changing, with some looking like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, and some looking like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items. While the appearance of e-cigs continues to evolve, the aerosol they deliver remains harmful. E-cigs deliver nicotine, often in extremely high doses. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. This aerosol also contains flavorings that can contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease, as well as other harmful ingredients.
Youth and young adults are more vulnerable to social and environmental influences to use tobacco. The tobacco industry spends $26 million per day marketing their products — often using advertising and promotion that show tobacco use as a normal activity among young people. E-cigarette companies also use marketing tactics to target youth through paid promotion on social media, sponsorship of music festivals and events, and the promotion of flavorings like cotton candy and gummy bear.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY CREATING AN ESSAY OR POEM/SONG LYRICS ENCOURAGING YOUTH TO LIVE TOBACCO-FREE.
- Know the truth. Despite all the tobacco use on TV and in movies, video games, apps, and magazines, most teens, adults, and physically active individuals DO NOT use tobacco.
- Make friends, participate in physical activity, be independent, and in general, get involved in extracurricular activities. You don’t need tobacco or nicotine products to be cool or have a good time.
- Don’t waste money. Tobacco is expensive. Spend it on video games, clothes, movies, donate to your favorite charity, or buy a new phone.
- Get involved: make your team, school, and home tobacco and nicotine free; learn about tobacco- and nicotine-free policies; inspire others to join efforts to prevent tobacco and nicotine use.