Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tobacco Targets Youth . . . Jefferson County Public Health Launches New Campaign to Educate and Engage the Community in Protecting Youth from Tobacco

The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting youth. Despite gains made in tobacco prevention in years past, tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and far too many youth are still being deceived by the industry’s marketing tactics and picking up the deadly habit.

Jefferson County Public Health is launching a new campaign entitled “Tobacco Targets Youth” to raise awareness and educate Jefferson County residents about how youth are being targeted by the tobacco industry and how easy it still is for youth to access and use tobacco products. The campaign uses print and digital advertisements with images of Colorado youth holding signs displaying hard-hitting facts such as, "Almost 90% of adult smokers start before the age of 18" and "91,000 teens in Colorado will die prematurely from smoking". 

The 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey indicated that 10.7% of Colorado high school students smoke cigarettes, and almost 60% of high school students in Colorado report that it is "easy or very easy" to get cigarettes. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product among youth in the United States with three million middle and high school students having used e-cigarettes in 2015. 

Tobacco companies spent nearly $9.5 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States in 2013, and the majority of their marketing budgets is spent on price discounts, point-of-sale advertising, coupons, and payments to ensure prime retail space. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tobacco companies advertise heavily at retail outlets near schools and playgrounds with large signs visible from outside the stores. This is especially concerning considering that the Surgeon General has reported that the more young people are exposed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities, the more likely they are to smoke. Additionally, the tobacco industry continues to produce and sell products that are appealing to youth such as little cigars, e-cigarettes, and e-juices in kid-friendly flavors such as cotton candy and bubble gum.

“Tobacco Targets Youth” encourages youth and adults in Jefferson County to visit www.tobaccofreejeffco.com/youth to get facts and learn how they can help protect youth from tobacco. Community members are also invited to take action by getting involved with the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance. Alliance Co-Chair Dr. Charmaine Brittain, MSW, Ph.D. states, “The Alliance joins with our community to make Jefferson County the healthiest place to live and bring up our children. We encourage our community members to get involved and help us make it so."

Tobacco-Free Jeffco’s next meeting will take place on June 8, 2016, from 4:30-6:30pm at the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building located at 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colorado. The meeting coincides with the launch of the new campaign and will provide a forum for discussion about effective strategies for reducing youth access to and use of tobacco. “The Tobacco-free Jeffco Alliance recommends communities adopt policies, such as requiring tobacco retailers to have a license and strengthening smoke-free laws, in order to reduce youth access to tobacco and protect our youth from the predatory practices of the tobacco industry,” stated Alliance Co-Chair Dr. Lorrie Odom, MD. All are invited to attend the meeting and are encouraged to RSVP in advance at bit.ly/June8TFJA.

Jefferson County Public Health continues to work toward reducing the toll of tobacco in our communities through sustainable solutions to the problem of tobacco use and exposure. To learn more about current initiatives and how to get involved, please visit www.tobaccofreejeffco.com, email tobaccofree@jeffco.us,
or call 303-275-7555.

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