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One in Four High School Seniors Smoke: Is It an 'Epidemic'?

Living 2012/03/09 18:46:19
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It's pretty hard to believe in 2012, but a whopping 25 percent of high school seniors are regular cigarette smokers, the U.S. surgeon general's office said in its first report on youth smoking since 1994, according to Reuters. And the habit often starts long before high school.



"Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life," Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said in the report. Nine in 10 current smokers started before the age of 18, and here's where it gets really scary: Because it's so hard to quit, some 80 percent of high school smokers will continue to smoke as adults, the report says.

The good news: U.S. smoking rates have fallen since 1964, when the surgeon general issued the first smoking warning. But the habit, which has been linked to lung cancer and heart disease, kills more than 1,200 people every day, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, Reuters reports.

Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, called for more action in a statement. "Until we end the tobacco epidemic, more young people will become addicted, more people will die and more families will be devastated by the suffering and loss of loved ones." Do you think youth smoking is an "epidemic"?
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Top Opinion

  • ehrhornp 2012/03/09 23:56:13
    No
    ehrhornp
    +10
    I think the number of smokers in the general population is around 25% so it doesn't seem like teenagers are much different. Dumb move on their part however. Also if 25% are smokers that means 75% are not.

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  • JAA 2012/03/11 00:49:01 (edited)
    No
    JAA
    +7
    It can't be an epidemic, because an epidemic involves an infectious disease, not a behavior. However, I think its long-term effects could eventually lead to an epidemic.

    I've given some thought to why teenagers would give in to this horrible habit (I lost my dad as a result of chain smoking) w/ all of the knowledge we have on the subject. My hypothesis is threefold: 1) smoking in public is all but outlawed in many or most cities, & teenagers like to rebel . . ., 2) tobacco companies have been increasing their promotional ads to the younger generation (at least they're not on TV), 3) since we have decreased the incidence of smoking so much, it may be like our vaccinations, people think the diseases that result from either not smoking or being vaccinated, have been ameliorated. Teens don't hear as much about deaths from COPD, lung cancer, throat & lip cancer as they did in the 80's & 90's.

    Maybe it's time to get the ole educational programs going again & invite the smokers to a local morgue for a little experience in what a diseased lung looks like.
  • OzSurfer JAA 2012/03/11 06:34:12
    OzSurfer
    +3
    I think you've just answered my question thanks!
  • Georgia50 2012/03/11 00:29:09
    No
    Georgia50
    +5
    Probably more like a phase. Heck, now that I'm in my 50s, cancer fee and healthy, I've even thought about taking up cigars. Cigar stores smell awesome...probably doesn't extend to the smoking habit though.
  • JohnT 2012/03/11 00:05:45
    No
    JohnT
    +4
    Not compared to the Sixties. Smoking is pretty much a stupid thing to do anymore. The addiction is often referred to as worse than Heroin, and the longer and the more heavily a person smokes the harder it is to quit.
  • DAVY 2012/03/11 00:03:38
    No
    DAVY
    +4
    It will become epidemic if the divider -in-chief has his way with taxpayers dollars. The another day ,publicly ,he praised a damsel for having washed her linen in the public for declaring that she needs taxpayers to foot $3000.00 for her uncontrollable sex urges . So,parents of these student smokers should be receiving a call from the divider-in-chief praising their daughters for imitating his smoking habits .
  • Carson DAVY 2012/03/12 03:07:08
    Carson
    I would love to meet that lady.
  • ʂıoвнaп ♡ 2012/03/10 23:55:02
    No
    ʂıoвнaп ♡
    +4
    It's not an epidemic because it's a choice.
  • J P 2012/03/10 23:49:44
    No
    J P
    +3
    I think chicks that smoke are sexy....they have have a "I don't give a F*** " look about them.
  • LADY LI... J P 2012/03/11 18:05:49
    LADY LIBERTY SILLY WORDSMITH
    +2
    SMOKING IS VERY GLAMOROUS, YES? hahaha!
    SMOKING S GLAMOROUS SMOKING S GLAMOROUS SMOKING S GLAMOROUS
  • Inquisitve Kat 2012/03/10 23:26:10 (edited)
    No
    Inquisitve Kat
    +6
    Hmm... how many smoked in 1950?

    I think we throw the word "epidemic" around too easily.

    *Edit* - It says nowhere in the article that youth smoking rates have gone up. It does say in the article, however, that tobacco companies are spending twice the amount on marketing than they were in 1998... wouldn't that mean smoking rates went down?
  • JohnT Inquisi... 2012/03/11 00:10:55
    JohnT
    +3
    That was my point, they need to do some comparison analysis before they toss out stupid statements. I smoked for 43 years and was part of the late 50' early sixties people that smoked all over the place. There was advertisements by doctors about how relaxing cigarette smoking was. It was legal and even Desi and Lucille Ball smoked. By now they have tried to bury all of those advertisements, but those of us that lived during that time know they trying to sell us a bill of goods. The Marlboro man died of lung cancer.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 00:40:40
    JAA
    +1
    You're right, an epidemic refers to a disease process, anyway; however, if we continue to see a rise in smoking by teens, there WILL be an epidemic when they reach the baby boomer age. I thought about this, & I think the rise in the number of smokers in the 21st Century by teenagers may be because it is being outlawed in public places, & teenagers love to rebel. Just a thought.
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 00:55:07
    Inquisitve Kat
    +3
    But is there a rise? It said there hasn't been a report since 1994 and it doesn't show the numbers from that year. I'm really disappointed with Reuters for posting this story, since it's written to imply a rise, but doesn't give any numbers. What I did read in the article is that the tobacco industry is paying almost twice what it paid in 1998 for marketing their product, so that leads me to think less people are smoking.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 02:39:15
    JAA
    +2
    Yes, there is a rise. "Smoking is on the rise in the developing world but falling in developed nations. Among Americans, smoking rates shrunk by nearly half in three decades (from the mid-1960s to mid-1990s), falling to 23% of adults by 1997. In the developing world, tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4% per year." http://quitsmoking.about.com/...
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 02:50:06
    Inquisitve Kat
    +1
    Okay, but we're (both in Canada and the United States) developed nations... falling.
    Developing nations are third-world countries. I think this article is talking about American youth.
    That said, the developing countries should look into getting their rates down.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 03:05:46
    JAA
    +2
    I found this interesting about the UK that you might like. I was trying to find something about Canada, & may yet do so:
    "A survey in the UK found about half of smokers think that smoking "can’t really be all that dangerous, or the Government wouldn’t let cigarettes be advertised".
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 03:23:37
    Inquisitve Kat
    +2
    Wow... that is interesting... disturbing, too.
    I think it's probably similar over here, too. It's baffling... almost like people are either overly alarmist or overly apathetic.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 08:10:43
    JAA
    +1
    lol, yea, the alarmists are the older people who have "been there, done that", & the apathy is the group on weed or other drugs, going, "cool, dude, this sh*t must be a scientific breakthrough, cigarettes without the bad stuff." ;-)
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 17:31:04
    Inquisitve Kat
    +2
    Nah, the older people who have "been there, done that" aren't really alarmists... they're appropriately concerned.
    The alarmists are the ones who are exaggerating claims and blaming every conceivable thing on smoking. Also, please don't think I was implying you're acting alarmist... because I'm not. :-)
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 19:17:24
    JAA
    +2
    Not at all, you're a nice person to talk with, unlike most on here. I don't mind at all having dissenting opinions. I just don't like all the drama & name-calling that often comes with that, so I appreciate your measured responses.
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 20:07:27
    Inquisitve Kat
    +1
    Thank you... the same goes for you. It's refreshing to find people who know how to disagree without taking personal offence.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 23:33:28
    JAA
    +1
    lol, you'd think differently if you read some of my posts after I've been intentionally insulted & trashed. Sometimes, I just am human (sigh). ;-)
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 23:53:39
    Inquisitve Kat
    Oh, if I've been insulted or trashed, I totally drop to their level... sometimes, my red hair shines through all that dye. ;-)
    It's just nice to run into someone who doesn't see a difference of opinion as a personal attack.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/12 00:33:54
    JAA
    +1
    lol, it seems that a Canadian & USA woman can be simpatico!! I only see it as a personal attack when it gets, well, "personal". Here is a sample of what I've gotten on this site (don't cry, lol):

    I stated something very benign about sexual proclivities, not even related to homosexuality, & I guess the guy went & read my profile, for his response was way out of proportion to the discussion:

    "Good thing we live in a Republic where minority rights are protected from the evil, fascist agenda of the religious majority.
    Your desire to have sex with your siblings or children is not related to gay marriage. Poor thing....I feel sorry for you, it must be awful to find that you have BECOME the "despised minority" group you tried casting gays into."

    I blocked the guy. ;-)
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/12 01:22:46
    Inquisitve Kat
    Wow. It's really sad when people judge someone based on their religious and political views. I'm a progressive agnostic with Pagan leanings and some of the best conversations I've had here have been with conservative Christians.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/12 01:30:43
    JAA
    +1
    Well, I really can't blame them for being angry with Christians, because there are a lot of judgmental ones who harp on the "sin" & seem to care less about the person's soul or individual needs. I just wish people wouldn't assume that we are all alike, or use insulting & trashy language to convey their anger.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 03:11:28
    JAA
    +1
    You're right, at least in regard to cigarettes, but we've leveled off & drug abuse is on the incline. I gave you another link to more current (2011) information. Sorry about that, I hate to be giving out outdated info (it's a professional pride thing, lol).
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 03:07:40 (edited)
    JAA
    +1
    Okay, well, I did more research because something didn't seem right in what I recently heard at a conference on teen drug abuse. Here's the latest (sorry about the misinformation, as that was a 2002 report):

    2011: "Cigarette and alcohol use by eighth, 10th and 12th-graders are at their lowest point since the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey began polling teenagers in 1975, according to this year's survey results. However, this positive news is tempered by a slowing rate of decline in teen smoking as well as continued high rates of abuse of other tobacco products (e.g., hookahs, small cigars, smokeless tobacco), marijuana and prescription drugs. The survey results, announced today during a news conference at the National Press Club, appear to show that more teens continue to abuse marijuana than cigarettes; and alcohol is still the drug of choice among all three age groups queried." http://www.drugabuse.gov/news...
  • Inquisi... JAA 2012/03/11 03:41:43
    Inquisitve Kat
    +1
    That's disturbing information... and I've seen it first hand, working with youth (I've usually only worked with young children, but I spent a few years volunteering at a teen centre). I also have an 18 year old girl (step-daughter, kind of, from an ex) who, along with a number of her friends, still remains in close contact with me and often comes to visit... they see me as young and hip since I'm only 26, so they're incredibly open with me and the things I hear from them are terrifying.

    You might already know this, since you work in healthcare, but I was fascinated to find out that a lot of the 'legal' drugs kids are using are as dangerous as illicit drugs (and in some cases, worse). I forget the brand, but a popular type of shisha (hookah tobacco) is made mostly of sugar cane bagasse (a sugar cane by-product). The scary thing about that is that people working with bagasse, who end up inhaling the dust, end up with serious lung disorders and damage... and there are no studies on its effects on humans when smoked.
  • JAA Inquisi... 2012/03/11 08:20:04
    JAA
    +1
    Yea, street drugs are being mixed w/ all kinds of inert ingredients that keep scientists on their toes trying to identify them. It's almost like from a sci-fi movie. Also, my understanding is that drug dealers are lacing these w/ enough of the drugs to get the kids "hooked" & craving the harder, more expensive stuff. There's also an increase in trafficking through coyotes [smugglers who use illegal immigrants] here on the borders. Coyotes also kidnap the family of these immigrants & keep them until the deals go down as "collateral". At the same time, we've got a complicit US government w/ backdoor deals, etc.
  • Wyveryx 2012/03/10 23:03:08
    No
    Wyveryx
    +3
    I wonder how they did a study to get this number?
  • JAA Wyveryx 2012/03/11 03:12:35
    JAA
    Here's the latest information I've found: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news...
  • Wyveryx JAA 2012/03/11 07:32:50
    Wyveryx
    +1
    thanks, interesting information. what I don't get is that they even say that it is at an historic low, yet the title of this poll is misleading then suggesting through a question that this is an epidemic.
    If anything alcohol use is still the number one choice and the question should have been asked about that.
  • JAA Wyveryx 2012/03/11 08:31:32 (edited)
    JAA
    +1
    Yes, alcohol parties were quite common when my daughter was in high school (she graduated in 2006). They'd play strip poker & take shots w/ each piece of clothing that came off. You can imagine the orgies & stuff going on afterwards. My daughter wasn't involved, but a few of her childhood friends got involved for awhile, & it just stunned her into staying at home & isolating herself. I understand that even junior high girls were invited to give the guys a good time (oral sex), WITHOUT protection. Many young people don't even consider this as "sex". There's a whole perverse sexual & drug underground that most parents & other adults are totally unaware is happening. I laugh when I hear the anti-bullying stuff as a way to end suicide rates in teens, as bullying is the LEAST of our kids' problems, it seems.

    We've got adults pushing sex education classes & handing out condoms & birth control pills like they were candy, but not addressing the actual cause of this increase in sex & drugs. The thing is, most teenagers won't use condoms, because it interrupts the spontaneity & is a "hassle", & good luck if you can get teenage girls to remember to take the "pill" as prescribed. Many teenage pregnancies occur due to a lack of preparation & noncompliance with taking the pill. They also get l...
    Yes, alcohol parties were quite common when my daughter was in high school (she graduated in 2006). They'd play strip poker & take shots w/ each piece of clothing that came off. You can imagine the orgies & stuff going on afterwards. My daughter wasn't involved, but a few of her childhood friends got involved for awhile, & it just stunned her into staying at home & isolating herself. I understand that even junior high girls were invited to give the guys a good time (oral sex), WITHOUT protection. Many young people don't even consider this as "sex". There's a whole perverse sexual & drug underground that most parents & other adults are totally unaware is happening. I laugh when I hear the anti-bullying stuff as a way to end suicide rates in teens, as bullying is the LEAST of our kids' problems, it seems.

    We've got adults pushing sex education classes & handing out condoms & birth control pills like they were candy, but not addressing the actual cause of this increase in sex & drugs. The thing is, most teenagers won't use condoms, because it interrupts the spontaneity & is a "hassle", & good luck if you can get teenage girls to remember to take the "pill" as prescribed. Many teenage pregnancies occur due to a lack of preparation & noncompliance with taking the pill. They also get lulled into a sense of security when they know the morning after pill or an abortion can be obtained through Planned Parenthood or their local gynecologist, especially since laws don't require them to notify parents. What a screwed up world we live in!!!
    (more)
  • Wyveryx JAA 2012/03/11 11:50:32
    Wyveryx
    Sad but true, I just hope that they at least leave morality lessons with the parents instead of the teachers lol.
  • angel face 2012/03/10 23:00:58
    Yes
    angel face
    +2
    most of them start when they are younger. like middle school
  • SundayStoleYourCookieDough 2012/03/10 22:40:46
    No
    SundayStoleYourCookieDough
    +2
    School does end at 18 in some places. ._. So while I'm aware I'm missing the point, it's not like it's 12 year olds doing it.

    ..It probably is in some cases but you know what I mean
  • Street Level 2012/03/10 22:33:48
    Yes
    Street Level
    +3
    Cigarettes are bad m'kay?
  • jacktown kid 2012/03/10 21:59:06
    Yes
    jacktown kid
    +4
    it is scary
  • Sour Dime 2012/03/10 21:56:34
    No
    Sour Dime
    +3
    It's pretty stressful, I'd be lying if I said I never smoked, I think it's more like 1 in ever 2.5 students I don't know a senior who doesn't/hasn't smoked my friend who is a junior smokes too more often then i have and my other senior friend.

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