Targeting teens is nothing new for the tobacco industry. They know the statistics for hooking lifelong smokers. Twelve to 17 year olds are at the highest risk of starting smoking. Marketing to America’s youth has been prevalent since the 1920s. Just because Joe Camel has gone away doesn’t mean these clever marketers have.

The US Food and Drug Administration is fighting back. The FDA has made a commitment through their latest anti-smoking advertising campaign to make an impact on teenage smoking. The new ads are meant to be graphic and powerful to drive the message home. One ad has a young man pulling out his own tooth to pay for cigarettes. Another has a young lady leaving behind a piece of her flesh.

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Health consequences such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, losing teeth, and wrinkling aged skin are realities. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18 and, unfortunately, teens often believe they can easily quit in a few years, but the facts are that they can’t. According to the FDA, every day, 3200 teenagers have their first cigarette without understanding the real cost of smoking. Approximately 1.5 million packs of cigarettes are purchased for consumption by minors annually. More than 30% of teen smokers will continue smoking and die early from a smoking-related illness.


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A new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicates that heavy smoking is down nationwide, but casual smoking rates are rising. Furthermore, 1 in every 5 high school students uses tobacco products.

e-Cigarettes are the latest nicotine delivery systems. Coming in a variety of flavors, they are almost like selling candy, so of course teenagers would find them appealing. A report published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that teens smoking e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes and become regular, heavier smokers. Who benefits from it all? The tobacco companies continue to have their coffers replenished with new cigarette addicts.

Knowledge is power. Let’s hope the FDA continues their campaign, and that they decide to take on e-cigarettes too.

Quick Facts:

  • 1 out of 5 deaths in the US is caused by smoking.
  • Lifelong smokers die an average of 13 years earlier than non-smokers.
  • On average, every cigarette smoked takes away 11 minutes of your life.
  • At least 28 chemicals found in smokeless tobacco cause cancer.
  • More than 7000 chemicals are found in cigarette smoke.
  • Substances such as carbon monoxide (car exhaust), formaldehyde (preserves dead bodies), cadmium (batteries), and lead are found in cigarette smoke.
  • Smoking accelerates skin aging.
  • Smoking causes gum disease and stains teeth.
  • Cigarette smoking causes 480,000 deaths in the US each year.
  • The bottom line is that smoking causes cancer, heart attacks, and lung disease.

Reference

  1. 11 facts about teen smoking. Do Something website. https://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-teen-smoking.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking & tobacco use: youth and tobacco use. CDC website. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm.
  3. Did you know? The Real Cost website. http://therealcost.betobaccofree.hhs.gov/facts/did-you-know/index.html?gclid=CJeCgrL6xL0CFe1QOgod_gYAZA.
  4. Teen smoking: 12 states with highest rates. CBS News website. http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/teen-smoking-12-states-with-highest-rates/.
  5. Zimmerman J. Christian Science Monitor website. Are e-cigarette marketers ensnaring the next generation of teen smokers? March 13, 2014. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2014/0313/Are-e-cigarette-marketers-ensnaring-the-next-generation-of-teen-smokers.