From Our Team
Taking those first few puffs, I felt like my insides were on fire. But after trying smoking a few more times, the feeling turned from bad to good…so I thought. Today, I smoke at least a pack of cigarettes a day and can’t stop. I have tried several time to quit, but just can’t.
These are familiar words that teens are expressing about their experience with smoking. Smoking is addictive and causes serious health problems. Three-quarters of young people who use tobacco daily continue to do so because they find it hard to quit. The American Lung Association estimates that every minute 4,000 teens will take their first drag of a cigarette and will go on to be a chain smoker. Statistics show that about 9 out of 10 tobacco users start before they’re 18 years old. Those that started in their teens never expected to become addicted.
To learn more about the regions tobacco-related behaviors in youth, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation conducted an El Paso Youth Tobacco Survey to establish a reliable baseline of smoking data for middle school students in the El Paso area. The study was recently published in the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) Journal Fall Issue. The published report showed that 21% of middle school students “tried” smoking in the past. Eight percent reported smoking in the last 30 days, and 26% reported having at least one friend who smokes. Also, students were asked questions related to their future expectancies, their perceptions of social norms, knowledge related to secondhand smoke, and perceptions of their tobacco refusal skills. About 15% said they “definitely will” or “probably will” be smoking five-years from the time they were surveyed. More than half (55%) perceived that most people their age think “it’s ok to smoke;” 26% perceived that young people who smoke have more friends; most students (86%) said that smoke from other people’s cigarettes is harmful to their health, and 82% knew how to refuse if someone offered them a cigarette.
These results have been beneficial to design, implement and evaluate comprehensive tobacco control programs that work to prevent young people from beginning tobacco use as well as helping young smokers to quit. The Foundation supports a variety of programs and funds anti-smoking youth media commercials in the region.
Teens should pay special attention and not be mislead by the variety of tobacco products. Pipes, cigars, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco are just as hazardous and should not be an alternative product for regular cigarettes. The best way to avoid problems associated with smoking is to stay smoke free. For those who smoke and want to quit, there is a variety of information and support services available.
On Thursday, November 18, 2010, join others throughout the country take the first step to help yourself, son or daughter, relative, or friend quit smoking for one day on the Great American Smoke Out. Individuals will use this day as an important step to bring awareness about the dangers of smoking and help those trying to quite. A variety of resources are available to help a smoker kick the habit. Make this day the first day in a healthier Smoke Free life.
American Cancer Society www.cancer.org
American Lung Association www.lungusa.org
Smoke Free Paso del Norte www.smokefreepdh.org
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