Alarming Statistics Health Educators Want You to Know About Youth and Tobacco
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know tobacco use is bad for your health. But just because that’s common knowledge doesn’t mean everyone is abstaining. Despite years of work by health educators, tobacco use is still a public health problem. And nowhere is that problem more acute than with the young.
If you want to make a difference in health promotion—whether on the level of world health or on the level of your local community—preventing young people from using tobacco should be on your list of goals. Here’s why:
The Majority of Smokers Start When They’re Young
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of all smokers first tried smoking by the time they were 18.1 That means it is reasonable to assume that to decrease overall smoking rates, we should begin by convincing young people to stay away from tobacco.
Youth Tobacco Use Is Declining
There has been a good deal of success in reducing tobacco use among those under the age of 18. Currently, around 2% of middle schoolers and 8% of high schoolers reported smoking cigarettes in the prior 30 days. This is down from 4% and 16%, respectively, since 2011.1
Cigarettes Are Not the Biggest Problem
Among the young, electronic cigarettes are the most popular form of tobacco.1 Rather than burning tobacco (like cigarettes, cigars, and pipes do), e-cigarettes convert liquid nicotine into a vapor that the user inhales. While so-called vaping liquids leave out some of the harmful chemicals found in regular cigarettes, recent studies have found that other harmful substances, such as toxic metals, can be present in the vapor.2 Plus, nicotine itself can be quite harmful to our bodies.3
Flavored Products Are Particularly Problematic
Among high school tobacco users, 73% report using flavored tobacco products.1 Flavorings are the norm with vaping liquids, which is one of the main reasons e-cigarettes are so popular among the young. And these flavorings are proving to be a gateway to cigarette smoking, with a recent study finding that e-cigarette use is directly leading to 168,000 new young cigarette smokers a year.4 Because of the allure of flavored vaping liquids and their link to youth tobacco use, the city of San Francisco recently banned the sale of flavored tobacco,5 which may further a national trend of prohibiting such products.
How You Can Help Reduce Youth Tobacco Use
Youth tobacco use is a problem we need to combat for the good of our public health. Fortunately, there’s something you can do to help. And it begins by earning an MS in Health Education and Promotion.
What is health education and promotion? It’s a field that combines the principles of public health and education to teach and promote healthy living, either by educating communities directly or by developing the programs and communication plans/materials needed to help prevent disease and poor health habits like tobacco use.
Fortunately, earning your MS in Health Education and Promotion isn’t as complicated as you might think. That’s because you can earn a master’s in health education and promotion online. What’s the benefit of online education? In short, it offers an exceptional degree of convenience and flexibility, making it possible for you to continue working full time while you earn your degree. In an online master’s in health education and promotion program, you can complete your coursework right from home and on a schedule that allows you to choose when in the day you attend class.
If you want to help reduce youth tobacco use, a career in health education and promotion could be the perfect choice. And you can make starting such a career a reality, thanks to the advantages of online learning.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Health Education and Promotion degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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