More than 3.6 million kids smoke, according to a new report released by Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.
- Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable and premature death, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day.
- For every tobacco-related death two new young people under the age of 26 become regular smokers.
- About three out of four high school smokers continue to smoke into adulthood.
The surgeon general’s report provides more scientific evidence about the addictive properties of nicotine. The younger people are when they begin smoking tobacco, the higher the likelihood they will become addicted — and the more heavily addicted they will become.
“The addictive power of nicotine makes tobacco use much more than a passing phase for most teens. We now know smoking causes immediate physical damage, some of which is permanent,” said Dr. Benjamin. “Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don’t want our children to start something now that they won’t be able to change later in life.”
While the long-term health effects of tobacco use are well known, this latest report concludes that smoking early in life has substantial health risks that begin immediately in young smokers. These include serious early cardiovascular damage and a reduction in lung functionality. This causes shortness of breath and increases the risk of pulmonary diseases later in life — and this lung damage is permanent.
The report also notes that expenditures for marketing and promotion of tobacco products exceed $1 million an hour — over $27 million a day in the US alone, and much of that is aimed at young people.
“We can and must continue to do more to accelerate the decline in youth tobacco use,” said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at HHS. “Until we end the tobacco epidemic, more young people will become addicted, more people will die, and more families will be devastated by the suffering and loss of loved ones.”
We’ve known about the dangers of tobacco for an awful long time. It’s hard to fathom that in 2012, 3.6 million kids are smoking their health away.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services