● According to the Centre for Disease Control, among adults who smoke, 85 percent started when they were 21 or younger.
● Every day, almost 3,900 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette. More than 950 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit.
Although many consider tobacco education to be “a high-school thing”, a significant number of young people actually start smoking in college. College students consume tobacco for a variety of reasons: stress, weight loss, social interactions…etc. Because smoking is often precipitated by social factors, and because college students’ social groups often revolve around school, school-based programs are powerful in preventing young people from having their first cigarette and in motivating those who are already smoking quit. A University of Southern California review of more than 30 school programs and found that they can reduce existing youth smoking by as much as 20 percent while also effectively curbing the number of young people who ever start.
Nonetheless, it can be tricky to effectively advocate and educate college-aged students about the harms of tobacco. After all, these are educated and independent young people that have pre-existing personal beliefs and can form their own opinions. Therefore, effective tobacco education programs should be comprehensive in addressing a variety of issues:
• Education about the immediate and long-term undesirable physiologic, cosmetic, and social consequences of tobacco use.
• Information about the reasons teens begin to smoke, such as a desire for maturity and acceptance,
and should offer them more positive means to achieve these same goals.
• Development of personal skills, such as assertiveness, confidence, and problem-solving skills, that
will aid students in avoiding tobacco use as well as other risky behaviors.
Importantly, to reinforce this educational effort, schools should enforce policies that forbid smoking or other tobacco use by students, staff, or visitors on campus or at school activities, and provide smokers with cessation information and assistance. The goals of Hopkins Kicks Butts are to educate people about the harms of tobacco use and to create a smoke-free environment for students, faculty, and staff. Today, that mission continues.