In the past, there were many anti-smoking campaigns aimed at younger people. However, the hot topic in health care today is obesity. Some public health experts believe these anti-obesity campaigns have taken the focus off of preventing students from using tobacco products. Unfortunately, a recent survey confirms this by showing that 19.5 percent of high school students are smokers.
Why are students using tobacco? Terry Pechacek of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks that “people are getting the image that it’s cool to use nicotine as a drug.”
A popular form of tobacco use among students today is smoking hookah. Hookah bars have been popular in Europe for years, and their popularity is springing up in towns across the USA. Smokeless nicotine products are also popular among students who do not want to be seen smoking but still crave a nicotine fix.
Dr. Steven Schroeder, a professor of medicine at the University of California – San Francisco, and Kenneth Warner, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, wrote an article about the health dangers of smoking.
“At a time when all eyes are focused on health care reform, escalating medical costs and childhood obesity, cigarette smoking remains by far the most common cause of preventable death and disability in the United States,” they said. “The prevalence of smoking in the United States hovers at 20 percent, more than eight million people are sick or disabled as a result of tobacco use, and smoking kills 450,000 Americans annually.”
A fact to consider before you light up: Experts predict that one-third of all high school smokers will die prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases. If you graduated from a class of 500 students like I did, that means that 167 of your classmates will die before their time. That’s enough to make me put out my cigarette; how about you?