Health & Nutrition
Throughout the years, young people used tobacco products at an early age. They were influenced by peers, family members, commercials and photo advertisements. As a result, tobacco use led to a lifetime of addiction and even premature death. Today, data further reveals that stress and other factors can greatly influence tobacco use among youth.
Tobacco Use Data
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration reveals that youth generally start using tobacco products during adolescence. Approximately, nine out of 10 daily cigarette smokers first tried cigarettes by age 18. Another 99 percent smoked by the age of 26. Each day in the United States an estimated 1,600 youth under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and nearly 200 youth under 18 start smoking daily.
In Alabama, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report for 2019 indicated that less than 30 percent of surveyed youth (grades 9-12) in the state tried a cigarette. In addition, 10 percent smoked before the age of 13, and 7.1 percent currently smoke.
Data further reveals that youth are more apt to use tobacco during stressful times. Such times include living in a dysfunctional home environment, academic and popularity challenges, or the need to fit in with peers.
Avoiding Tobacco Use
Individuals who influence youth can set a positive example by being tobacco free and communicating that nicotine use can lead to addiction. Tobacco use also impairs brain development and affects learning, memory, and attention. The following suggestions can help youth avoid tobacco use.
- Take a brisk walk during stressful times.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to someone when feeling confused or get counseling if troubled.
- Ask for help when school, work, or life are overwhelming.
- Just say no to peer pressure.
Alabama Extension offers a program that also helps children and youth to avoid tobacco and other substances.
About Health Rocks!®
The Alabama 4-H Health Rocks!® program is a healthy living program aimed at children and youth ages 9 to 15. Its goals are to bring families and communities together to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use among young people. Chances are that some youth between the ages of 12 to 14 years old have tried tobacco, alcohol or some type of drug. The 10-hour curriculum engages young people with hands-on activities that allows them to develop the necessary skills to reduce or abstain from tobacco and substance use.
Visit www.aces.edu to learn more about Alabama 4-H youth programs.