Courtesy Activate Allen County
Preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States. Primarily, tobacco use is begun and established during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 99% first tried smoking by age 26. Each day in the United States, more than 3,800 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers. If smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today. Here in Allen County the 2014 Health Assessment identified that 9% of Allen County youth in grades 6-12 were smokers, increasing to 14% of youth ages 14-16.
Cigarette smoking has declined among U.S. youth in recent years, but the use of some other tobacco products has increased Approximately, 9 of every 100 high school students reported in 2014 that they smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days—a decrease from 15.8% in 2011. However, current use of electronic cigarettes increased among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2014. In 2014, 13.4% of high school students reported that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 1.5% in 2011. From 2011 to 2014, current use of hookahs increased; 2.5% of middle school students reported in 2014 that they had used hookah in the past 30 days—an increase from 1.0% in 2011. In 2014, more than 5 of every 100 high school students reported current use of smokeless tobacco. In 2014, more than 12 of every 100 high school students (12.7%) and approximately 3 of every 100 middle school students (3.1%) reported use of two or more tobacco products in the past 30 days. Youth who use multiple tobacco products are at higher risk for developing nicotine dependence and might be more likely to continue using tobacco into adulthood.
Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and nonrespiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use. Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood. Cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those persons who have never smoked.
National, state, and local program activities have been shown to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use when implemented together. They include the following:
- Prohibiting smoking in indoor areas of worksites and public places, such as schools.
- Raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years
- Higher costs for tobacco products
- TV and radio commercials, posters, and other media messages targeted toward youth to counter tobacco product advertisements
- Community programs and school/college policies and interventions that encourage tobacco-free environments and lifestyles
- Community programs that reduce tobacco advertising, promotions, and availability of tobacco products
Continued efforts are needed to prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco use among youth.
Bath Local Schools are now a tobacco-free school campus. In February of 2015, the school conducted a survey of the Bath School Community covering five specific topics, one of which dealt with designating the entire Bath School Campus to be tobacco and smoke free. Eighty-five percent of the respondents supported this concept.
Last August, after a third public consideration of a formal policy to make the campus tobacco and smoke free, the Bath Local School Board acted to adopt this comprehensive policy.
This policy was put in place to provide a healthier environment for our children and community members. Bath school officials hope that the community will respect and embrace this new policy as an improvement to the school environment.
Thank you Bath Local Schools for being a community success story!