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How to kick Connecticut youth's smoking habits in the butts

Despite all that the public knows about the dangers of smoking, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in Connecticut, and smoking is the number one cause of heart disease. Hundreds of the thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke are toxic and almost one hundred chemicals in tobacco smoke are known to be carcinogenic; smoking is also responsible for more than 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths.

Studies have shown that tobacco-smoking habits most often develop during adolescence and the teen years. More than 80 percent of adult smokers begin the habit before they turn 18. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids more than 3,500 young people try their first cigarette under the age of 18. Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) reports that 6.7 percent of Connecticut teens smoking cigarettes smoked their first whole cigarette before age 11.

CTFK states that 1,000 youth become new, daily smokers. With a third of all youth eventually dying prematurely from smoking-caused diseases, this roughly equates to 6 million young people alive right now who will eventually die from smoking—76,000 of who are currently living in Connecticut, according to the CT DPH.

Connecticut Youth Tobacco Use Habits

The CT DPH reports that 52.8 percent of middle school and high school students have tried a tobacco product, and 24.5 percent currently smoke or are tobacco users in some fashion. According to the 2011 Youth Tobacco Use Report, the prevalence of use of all tobacco products by both middle and high school users decreased from 2000 to 2011.

Twelve percent of middle school students have used a form of tobacco. The rate of middle school students who currently use a form of tobacco is 4.6 percent. For high school students, 40.8 percent have used a form of tobacco; like middle school students, the most popular three picks were cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. The percentage of students who are regular users of a tobacco product is 19.9 percent.

Of current high school smokers, 35.7 percent smoke frequently. Of those, 47.6 percent of high school cigarette smokers want to quit; 41.2 percent of current middle school smokers want to quit.

The Outlook For Quitting

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that while 3 percent of young smokers say they won’t be smoking in 5 years, more than 60 percent are still daily smokers 7-9 yeas later. Three out of four U.S. high school students who smoke have tried to quit but failed, and one in seven students have successfully stopped smoking for just 30 days. It can take an average of 7 attempts before one can quit smoking successfully. That is why the proper support and resources are crucial.
Prevention is Key

Statistics say that if someone has not begun using tobacco by age 25, the likelihood that they will ever use it is very low. With the rising popularity of e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products (including among adults), there is a lot of work ahead for the state and beyond. That is why it is so important to continue work on smoking prevention, including less deceitful and persuasive advertising and marketing campaigns, “health-focused” pharmacies like CVS committing to quit selling tobacco products, college campuses like New Haven’s Gateway Community College becoming officially “smoke-free,” and increasing public policies that support reducing youth smoking, like Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s recent introduction of legislation to strengthen Connecticut’s anti-smoking laws and to prevent the sale of tobacco-products to minors.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a non-profit organization that is leading the fight to reduce tobacco use and decrease its deadly toll. The group advocates on behalf of public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect all from secondhand smoke.

Kick Butts Day

Yesterday was officially CTFK’s Kick Butts Day, a day of activism giving youth the platform to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco through organized events around the country and world. While more than 1,4000 Kick Butts Day events were held March 19, Kick Butts events can be held any time throughout the year to raise awareness, positively influence peers, and encourage youth to be part of the solution in reducing tobacco use. Find out which ways you can get involved here.

Quitting Resources

• Call the CT Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 for help or information on quitting smoking, or enroll at QuitNow.net

• To begin an online program, available 24/7, to re-learn life without cigarettes at BecomeAnEx.org

• For help to quit smoking, Local Tobacco Use Cessation Programs include:

Community Health Resources
587 East Middle Turnpike
Manchester, CT 06040
Attn: Christin Cofiell
860-646-3888

St. Francis Hospital
Break Free From Smoking
114 Woodland Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Attn: Sally Lerman
877-783-7262

Hartford Behavioral Health
One Main Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Attn: Judith Rios
860-727-8703

Hartford Hospital
80 Seymour Street
Hartford, CT 06102
Attn: Jeremy Barbagallo
860-545-3127