Tobacco Free Nebraska for a great state of health

Tobacco Free Nebraska

Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People

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Every year, smoking and secondhand smoke kill over 2,300 Nebraskans. Nationally, the total is nearly 440,000. These deaths are totally preventable — and the key opportunities for prevention are found in childhood and young adulthood.

Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18, and 99% start by age 26.

Smoking kills more than 1,200 Americans every day. And every tobacco-related death is replaced by two new smokers under the age of 25.

It’s clear that if young people can be kept tobacco-free through age 26, most will remain tobacco-free for the rest of their lives. However, the pressure to try tobacco is great. Peers, family and tobacco industry marketing are powerful influences.

Widespread advertising by the tobacco industry has led us to believe that "most people" smoke. However, only 20% of Nebraska adults do.

Smoking kills more than 1,200 Americans every day. And every tobacco-related death is replaced by two new smokers under the age of 25.

The tobacco industry spends $8.8 billion each year on marketing its products — just over $1 million an hour. An estimated $58.8 million a year is spent in Nebraska alone — more than $6,700 per hour, each and every day.

Much of that advertising targets young people through sporting and musical event sponsorships, brand names displayed on clothing and other items, magazine ads and convenience store displays. A trend in larger cities is to sponsor "bar nights" where heavy promotion of cigarette brands takes place.

Tobacco product ads often use visual images that young people like. Cigarette ads tend to associate smoking with independence, adventure and attractiveness — themes that appeal to young people. The approach appears to be working. Nationally, more than 80% of underage smokers choose brands from among the top three most heavily advertised.

Many young people think that it’s safe to smoke for a year or two, as long as they quit after that time.

In reality, tobacco is an addiction, not just a "bad habit."

And, young people are especially sensitive to nicotine. The younger they are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to become addicted to nicotine and the more heavily addicted they become.

Nicotine addiction makes quitting smoking as hard as quitting heroin, cocaine or alcohol. A long-term national study found that 70% of high school seniors who smoked as few as one to five cigarettes a day were still smoking five years later, and most were smoking more cigarettes per day.

Just one puff of a cigarette speeds your heart rate, raises blood pressure and replaces oxygen in your blood with carbon monoxide.

Young people are sensitive to nicotine.

The younger they are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to become addicted to nicotine and the more heavily addicted they become.

You might also have shortness of breath, coughing, nausea, dizziness and headaches.

Smoking as few as one to five cigarettes a day drastically increases your risk of a heart attack.

Teens that use tobacco are 11 times more likely to use cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs and 16 times more likely to drink heavily.

Smoking is also linked with a host of other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex.

The public health movement preventing tobacco use will be successful when young people no longer want to smoke or chew.

Sources: 2012 Surgeon General's Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services


For more information, contact:
Tobacco Free Nebraska
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026
Phone: (402) 471-2101
Email: TFN Info