Five questions: Tobacco-free teens
Last month, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin released a new report calling on the country to make the next generation tobacco-free. The report, “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” said far too many young people are using tobacco.
Below, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shares how serious the problem is in our state.
Q: How many young people are smoking cigarettes?
A: Today in Kansas, an estimated 91,800 Kansans under age 25 smoke cigarettes. Of those, 4,800 are in middle school and 20,800 are in high school.
Q: How easy is it for a young person to become addicted to nicotine?
A: The younger a person is when they start smoking or using tobacco products, the more likely they are to get addicted and the more heavily addicted they will become. Nicotine addiction will cause about three out of four teens to smoke into adulthood, even if they intend to quit after a few years.
Q: How harmful is it to start smoking at a young age?
A: While the long-term effects of tobacco use are well-known, smoking early in life has substantial health risks that begin almost immediately, according to the surgeon general’s report. For heart disease, we see early damage in most young smokers and those most sensitive die very young.
Q: What are the financial impacts to the state?
A: The state of Kansas spends an estimated $196 million annually in Medicaid costs to treat tobacco-related illnesses. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated $860 million in lost productivity costs are attributed to tobacco use in Kansas.
Q: Where can youths and teens find support to quit smoking?
A: In January, KDHE launched KanQuit.org, an online resource for teens and young adults seeking information about the health effects of tobacco use and resources to help them quit.