Kids and Tobacco - Consumer Justice Foundation

Kids and Tobacco

Written by Faith Anderson on November 15, 2012
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Tobacco Use Begins at a Young Age

“Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood,” wrote Surgeon General Regina Benjamin in the recent report. “These young individuals progress from smoking occasionally to smoking every day.” Plus, she added, “of every three young smokers, only one will quit, and one of those remaining smokers will die from tobacco-related causes.” With a keen eye to these statistics, tobacco companies know they have a large client base in children 18 and under, and make every effort to attract the attention of this particular demographic. By flavoring their products and packaging them like candy, tobacco companies are appealing to a population that may not be entirely aware of the potential for addiction and the serious health risks associated with smoking.

Tobacco Marketed to Children Under 18

In some states, cigars, smokeless tobacco and cigarillos are cheaper than cigarettes because they are categorized as “other tobacco products” and are taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes, which makes them even more appealing to younger consumers. And, despite the fact that it is illegal to sell tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18, underage purchases happen. Unfortunately, judging by national statistics, for individuals who start smoking at a young age, the odds are stacked against them.

Helping Americans Quit Smoking

In an effort to reduce the appeal of cigarettes and make the health risks associated with smoking more obvious to the general public, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have taken steps to implement graphic anti-smoking ads and uniform cigarette packaging in the United States. While these actions have met with considerable resistance from big tobacco, many believe more stringent anti-smoking regulations could help deter potential smokers and help current smokers quit. November 14, 2012 marked the 37th annual Great American Smokeout, designed for smokers to “use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day.” Hopefully, older Americans can find a reason to kick the habit and set a good example for younger generations.

Posted Under: Editorial
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