Youth Tobacco Use
In the U.S., the widespread use of tobacco began over a century ago, and the epidemic of tobacco-caused diseases and premature mortality that is associated with tobacco use has continued until today (U.S. DHHS, 2014). Young people ages 12 to 17 years old around the country still initiate tobacco use despite the many years of research on the determinants of tobacco use among youth, the widespread implementation of public health prevention programs, the health warnings about the dangers of smoking, the increasing social unacceptability of smoking, and the increasingly restrictive regulations and policies on smoking. Smoking and smokeless tobacco use is primarily established during adolescence. “Early initiation is a major risk factor for regular smoking in late adolescence and young adulthood” (Ellickson, Orlando, Tucker, & Klein, 2004). According to the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), the prevalence of current tobacco use among middle school students and high school students in that year was 6.7 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively (CDC, 2013b). Nearly 90 percent of smokers began the habit by the age of 18, and 99 percent started to smoke by the age of 26. Twenty percent of youth in the U.S. will try cigarettes by eighth grade, while 42 percent will do the same by twelfth grade (Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schluelenberg, 2011). More than 380,000 12 to 13 year olds and nearly four million 14 to 17 year olds have smoked (SAMHSA, 2013). Each day in the U.S., more than 3,800 people under 18 years old smoke their first cigarette, and more than 1,000 youth become daily cigarette smokers (U.S. DHHS, 2012). The transition from tobacco experimentation to regular tobacco use occurs during ...
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... skills to resist influences to use tobacco; lack of parental support or involvement; accessibility, availability, and price of tobacco products; low levels of academic achievement; low self-image or self-esteem; exposure to tobacco advertising; and aggressive behavior (e.g., fighting, carrying weapons)” (CDC, 2014c).
Health Effects of Tobacco Use
Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body. Smoking-related cancers include: bladder, blood, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney and ureter, larynx, liver, oropharynx, pancreas, stomach, trachea, bronchus, and lung (CDC, 2014b). Cigarette smoking has been linked to nearly 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer (CDC, 2014b). Smoking is also associated with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases. It aggravates asthma symptoms and increases the risk of heart disease (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2009).
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