Why do we need this program?
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing an estimated 443,000 Americans each year. Second-hand smoke, or passive smoking, is the second leading cause of preventable death, right behind tobacco use.
Nearly a million and a half of our nation’s youth under age 18 will try their first cigarette this year. The younger kids are when they try tobacco, the more likely they are to become addicted. Three of 4 teens who smoke will continue smoking into adulthood. Cigarette smoking by youth and young adults has immediate adverse health consequences, including addiction, and accelerated development of chronic diseases across the lifespan. PREVENTION IS CRITICAL.
The prevalence of smoking among Allegan County residents (24%) exceeds our state average (22%). In 2009, there were a total of 810 deaths in Allegan County and 114 (14%) of those deaths can be linked directly to tobacco use. Allegan County youth are not immune to the dangers and trends of tobacco use. A 2010 survey of Allegan County youth showed that 30 percent of 11th grade students had used tobacco in the past 30 days. The average age of first use of tobacco by middle school and high school students is age 12.
After years of steady decrease following the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998, declines in youth tobacco use have slowed for cigarette smoking and stalled for use of smokeless tobacco. The latest research shows that concurrent use of multiple tobacco products is common among young people, and suggests that smokeless tobacco use is increasing among White males.
A recent report of the U.S. Surgeon General concludes that coordinated, multi-component interventions that include school-based policies and programs are effective in youth tobacco use reduction. The Comprehensive 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Program allows for policy-level intervention and aligns with the socio-ecological model of public health promotion, which identifies five levels of influence on health behavior: individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and public policy.
The Tobacco-Free Schools Program is also in keeping with Governor Snyder’s Michigan 4 X 4 Health and Wellness Plan
as it promotes the avoidance of all tobacco use, 1 of 4 key health behaviors outlined in the plan.