The American Lung Association recently estimated that every day approximately 4,000 young people aged less than 18 years old smoke their first cigarette. This accounts for about 1.5 million youth annually experimenting with the deadly habit.
One in every four high school students and one in every three young people aged under 26 years are smokers. In an effort to reduce these numbers, young people are being called on to speak up and act on the awareness of tobacco’s harmful effects. These ALA-led initiatives will take place at several events nationwide on March 18th for the Annual Kick Butts Day, supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Specialists at the Rutgers School of Public Health and at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey will be available to comment on the current cessation efforts, on the development of lung cancer and on other harmful health consequences of smoking.
Specialists available to comment include:
Michael Steinberg, MD, MPH, FACP, an investigator at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and also the executive of the Tobacco Dependence Program, a program created by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. Michael Steinberg will be free to discuss the complete nature of the program, which aims to provide help toward tobacco use cessation through clinical treatment, education, investigations and advocacy. As Dr. Steinberg is a general internist, he can provide useful information on the risk of tobacco use for the development of lung cancer and other serious conditions. Dr. Steinberg is also an associate medicine professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and also an associate health educator and behavioral science professor at the School of Public Health.
Donna Richardson, MSW, LCSW, LCADC, CTTS, is the clinical director for the Tobacco Dependence Program and she is an expert in tobacco treatment. She has spent more than 30 years assisting people to examine their behaviors and find strategies to improve their lifestyle and health via behavioral alterations to become tobacco-free. Donna Richardson is also a tutor at the School of Public Health.
Peer pressure, tobacco advertising, and cultural/environmental/economic factors are all influencers in smoking habits among the youth population. However, the ALA along with these experts believe that increased advocacy and education can make positive inroads into further reducing the number of young people who try smoking.