Teachers try to tackle smoking
EAGLE COUNTY – Are more teens and young adults smoking cigarettes? According to the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance, that answer is ‘yes,’ but, the group says, putting a stop to tobacco use among young people is not given the same priority as for adults. Teachers in the Eagle County School District start teaching about the dangers of tobacco use in the fifth grade. There, students learn about the different chemicals in tobacco products and study the long-term effects of smoking and secondhand smoke. They also learn about advertising techniques aimed at teenagers. Students in Robin Santoro’s Life Skills class at Eagle Valley Middle have already tackled tobacco. “Cigarettes are very addictive. It’s such a bad thing to start doing because it’s so hard to stop,” says sixth-grader Erica Buzbee. “We learned how bad it is for your body and it’s a very expensive, bad habit.” “When you smoke, your heart rate becomes faster and you get shaky,” classmate Austin Tafoya added. “It’s really bad for you – it causes lung cancer.”Each year, over 10,000 Colorado youths become daily smokers. It is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18 and despite significant progress and much attention toward preventing youth tobacco use, more than 3,000 young people still become regular smokers each day. The prevention alliances attempts to work with state and community groups to enforce public smoking bans. The alliance also says it aims to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
• Each day, more than 3,000 kids become regular smokers. That’s more than 1 million kids a year. Roughly one-third of them will eventually die from a tobacco-related disease.• Almost 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18.• Among smokers aged 12-17 years old, 70 percent say they already regret their decision to smoke. • Most teen smokers believe they can quit but after six years 75 percent still smoke.• Three of four teenagers who smoke have made at least one, serious, yet unsuccessful, effort to quit smoking. In states with comprehensive tobacco programs the success is high.• The Surgeon General has reported that teenagers who are daily smokers are 100 times more likely to go on to use marijuana and 30 times more likely to go on to use cocaine than youth who do not smoke. • Eighty-six percent of children who smoke prefer Marlboro, Camel, and Newport – the three most heavily advertised brands – compared to only about one-third of adult smokers. Between 1989 and 1993, when advertising for the new Joe Camel campaign jumped from $27 millions to $43 million, Camel’s share among youth increased by more than 50 percent, while its adult market share did not change at all. • Teenagers smoke 1.1 billion packs of cigarettes yearly and will account for more than $200 billion in future health care costs. 3.4 million packs of cigarettes each year are illegally sold to kids.• Almost 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking at or before age 18. • Daily smoking most often begins in grades six through nine, and smokers who begin at this age find it most difficult to quit. – Source: Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance