World No Tobacco Day is May 31 every year. This year, residents are being asked to commemorate the day by deciding they will never provide tobacco to minors.
The U.S. Surgeon General’s report, issued earlier this year, said that at current rates, 5.6 million children alive today will die early from smoking. Smokeless tobacco also takes a heavy toll.
Reducing youth access to tobacco is an important way to counter those trends.
Ninety percent of adult tobacco users started before they were 18 years old, which is the legal age for purchasing tobacco in Nebraska and most other states.
A 2012 survey of high school students in Lincoln County showed that youth who use tobacco usually get it from older friends and family members.
Local merchants are normally careful to avoid selling tobacco to underage youth. The biggest problem is that older friends and siblings buy it for them. Parents who use tobacco sometimes leave it lying around, and that’s another problem in our area.
Providing tobacco to a child or teenager may start a life-changing addiction that comes with huge health consequences.
Let’s give World No Tobacco Day some real significance, by deciding to keep tobacco out of the hands of our youth.
People can show their commitment to do just that, with a free certificate that states, “I am part of the solution." To order, go to CommunityConnectionsLC.org and click on “Tobacco Free Lincoln County.”
Tobacco Free Lincoln County is a collaborative effort that focuses on keeping youth from starting to use tobacco, reducing access to tobacco products, and increasing awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke. It is funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services/Tobacco Free Nebraska Program, as a result of the tobacco master settlement agreement.
By George Haws, the coordinator of Community Connections-Tobacco Free Lincoln County.