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Reducing Cigarette Smoking American Youth

Abstract

The number of smokers among youths in America is alarming. Instead of going down, this number just leveled up. Many researchers and health service providers are worried about this trend. It was, therefore, necessary to carry out a research to establish the causes of this situation and possible solutions. Findings from most studies have proposed raising the prices of all tobacco products, controlling advertisements and strict punishment to curb the prevalence of smoking among the school-going population.

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Introduction

Currently, about 4 million high school students are smokers1. Study indicates that approximately 1200 youths die each day due to smoking. However, these deaths do not stop others from smoking. New smokers take over and smoking continues. Most of these beginners try out their first puffs when they are below 18 years.

In modern days, it is easy for youths to access information. However, sources which appear to be anti-smoking are the ones encouraging it. It is for this reason that the number of young smokers is declining at a rate that is not constant. This rate is not as fast as it was before 2003.2

Research has shown that there are more young smokers than adults in America. Many adult smokers have died. So, tobacco companies have resorted to enticing young smokers to replace the adults. Researchers also blame the vulnerability of youths and slackness in existing laws for this situation.

Background

Many states have developed policies to control the number of young smokers. These policies entail controlling prices and restricting marketing and access to cigarettes. They have been very effective in reducing the number of smokers among youths.

Most states agree that reducing prices is a very effective way of cutting down the number of young smokers. Youths mostly depend on their parents for money. They, therefore, feel the pain of buying cigarettes at high prices more than their adult counterparts3. Many of these states usually raise cigarette prices through increasing taxes. Research done between 2002 and 2008 showed that increase in prices reduced smoking among youths by 9.7%4.

Regulating the advertisement of tobacco products has also been fruitful. Many companies have used varied marketing strategies to show that smoking is good. Some companies use celebrities while others add flavor to their products to appeal to young smokers. Many states have forced such companies to put disclaimers on cigarette packs. In 2009, legislators enacted a law prohibiting consumption of all flavored cigarettes. This act was, however, not effective in reducing the prevalence of smoking because it did not apply to cigars, pipe tobacco and smokeless tobacco.

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Smoke-free laws have also been very useful in this fight. They prohibited smoking in public, but suggested the construction of special lounges for smoking. In Oregon, leaders expected these laws to reduce the rate of smoking among youths. Instead, smoking increased by approximately 4%. The main reason for this increase was the construction of smoking zones. Young smokers thought that smoking was a good thing because of these lounges.

Current Research

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention works together with WHO and the Global Tobacco Surveillance System in ensuring that the rate of smoking among youths does not escalate5. GTSS displays data from surveys conducted in different parts of the world. WHO, on the other hand, carries out research on tobacco and its effects. It then publishes the results and warns people against smoking. CDC published a report in 2010 indicating that approximately 450, 000 people die every year in the US due to smoking.6

Recent research indicates that national campaigns against smoking and other methods such as price control, restrictions on marketing and strict laws have helped reduce the number of young smokers. According to their reports, these three methods have cut down the number of young smokers by approximately 250, 000 cases. The research also projected a further reduction. This reduction will depend on how authorities implement these policies. Their report proposed the restoration of sponsorship for anti-smoking programs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention proposed that states should set aside $ 353 million for anti-tobacco programs. State governments, however, provided only 13% of this amount.

Discussion

Daniel Morris proposes making tobacco unaffordable and inaccessible. He also proposes restrictions in the marketing of tobacco products. According to him, equalizing the rates of tax on all tobacco products and putting warning messages on packets can help reduce smoking among youths. Tax equalization forces sellers to hike cigarette prices leading to a reduction in the number of youths buying cigarettes7. This proposal agrees with the Surgeon General’s Report of 2012.

Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults looks at smoking among youths as a problem that has existed in the US from the early 1880s. According to their arguments, this problem cannot end easily; it needs input from all stakeholders. The writer argues that most teenagers smoke because of the desire to be accepted among their peers. They criticize prevention programs for concentrating on long-term issues instead of such issues.

Most of the researchers agree that the number of youthful smokers had been decreasing until 2003 when it began to rise again8. Other scholars such as Daniel Morris blamed this rise to the lack of strictness in the implementation of preventive programs and improper analysis of their implications.

One of the articles argues that smoking among youths is a process.9 Accordingly, youths do not start smoking when they are grownups. They start while still very young. This article provides enough information to support this argument. According to the information available in this article, children try out their first cigarettes as early as when they are six years old. It reports that 5% of children between 10 and 11 years admitted having smoked and 10% of high school students admitted having been smokers before attaining 13 years.

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The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published an article titled Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students on 15 November, 2013. This article reports that approximately 90% of high school smokers started smoking when they were about 18 years old. This data disagrees with what The Path to Tobacco Addiction Starts At Very Young Ages says.

Some of these texts lack credibility. The information they provide is vague and has no evidence to support it. An example of such texts is The Path to Tobacco Addiction Starts At Very Young Ages. The information in this article suggests that children smoke from as early as 6 years. This information sounds very unrealistic. Many questions arise from this assertion. For example, “Where do these children buy the cigarettes?” “Can an adult give a cigarette to a minor and tell him to smoke?” The article does not give enough information to support its argument.

Morris’s suggestion that manufacturers should put labels on packets to warn youths against smoking is also ludicrous. This assertion is very ironical. Writing warnings on packets cannot do much in reducing the number of smokers.

Recommendations

  1. State governments should develop strict laws to prevent youths from accessing cigarettes. Any shopkeeper who sells tobacco to minors should face harsh punishment.
  2. If something is harmful to the health of citizens, then no one should buy or sell it. Most manufacturers usually put disclaimers on packets and expect people to buy them. Scientists have proven beyond doubts that cigarettes are the main cause of cancer. Governments should, therefore, ban the use of cigarettes.
  3. Research indicates that constructing lounges encourages youths to smoke. If citizens need them so much, state governments should construct them in places where children cannot see them.
  4. Most cigarette adverts usually use celebrities in enticing young people into buying cigarettes. Television and radio stations should raise their charges to reduce the number of adverts.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 1994.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 2012.
  3. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Path To Smoking Addiction Starts At Very Young Ages. Washington: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2009.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 2014.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011 and 2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2013;62(45):893–7.
  6. Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman PM, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, 2013. Ann Arbor (MI): University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing Tobacco Use: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 2000.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2014. Atlanta: U.S.
  9. Gidwani, P., Sobol, A, DeJong, W., Perrin, J. M., & Gortmaker, S L. (2002). Television viewing and initiation of smoking among youth. Pediatrics, 110(3), 505-508.
  10. Fagerstrom K. Measuring degree of physical dependence to tobacco smoking with reference to individualization of treatment. Addictive behaviors. 1978;3(3):235–241.

Footnotes

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 1994.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 2012.
  3. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Path To Smoking Addiction Starts At Very Young Ages. Washington: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2009.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 2014.
  5. Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman PM, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, 2013. Ann Arbor (MI): University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing Tobacco Use: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S., 2000.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2014. Atlanta: U.S., 2014.
  8. Gidwani, P P., Sobol, A, DeJong, W., Perrin, J. M., & Gortmaker, S L. (2002). Television viewing and initiation of smoking among youth. Pediatrics, 110(3), 505-508.
  9. Fagerstrom K. Measuring degree of physical dependence to tobacco smoking with reference to individualization of treatment. Addictive behaviors. 1978;3(3):235–241.

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