Congress & State legislatures
United States of America

July 17, 2006

Teen smoking rates - which plummeted dramatically over the past eight years - now appear to be leveling off, a trend that concerns many public health experts.

They're worried not just about the diminishing numbers of teens who are choosing to quit, but also about what may be in store for the 1 million plus new smokers who are succumbing to the habit each year.

Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence produces significant health problems among young people, including cough and phlegm production, an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses, decreased physical fitness, an unfavorable lipid profile and potential retardation in the rate of lung growth and the level of maximum lung function.

An estimated 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases caused by smoking.

• Each day, nearly 6,000 children under 18 years of age start smoking; of these, nearly 2,000 will become regular smokers. That is almost 800,000 annually.

• It is estimated that at least 4.5 million U.S. adolescents are cigarette smokers.

• Approximately 90 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21.

• If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 6.4 million children will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

• According to a 2001 national survey of high school students, the overall prevalence of current cigarette use was 28 percent.

• Nearly graders and 5.5 percent of 8th graders smoke cigarettes daily.

• Adolescents who smoke regularly can have just as hard a time quitting as long-time smokers.

• Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, most of them report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so.

• Cigarette advertisements tend to emphasize youthful vigor, sexual attraction and independence themes, which appeal to teenagers and young adults struggling with these issues.

• Tobacco use in adolescence is associated with a range of health-compromising behaviors, including being involved in fights, carrying weapons, engaging in high-risk sexual behavior and using alcohol and other drugs.

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The The Effect of Smoking On Teens petition to Congress & State legislatures was written by Organization For Smoke Free NYCU and is in the category Health at GoPetition.