Having a strong tobacco policy in schools is important for reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, de-normalizing tobacco use among youth and adults, and a way for schools to save money as employers. Here are some quick facts about smoking and schools from Tobacco Free Florida:
- Every day, an estimated 1,315 people in the United States die because of smoking. For each of those deaths, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers each day.
- Young people rarely consider the long-term health consequences associated with tobacco use when they start.
- Because of nicotine, a highly addictive drug, three out of four youth continue using tobacco well into adulthood, often with serious and even deadly consequences.
- Adolescents’ bodies are more sensitive to nicotine, and adolescents are more easily addicted than adults.
- If current smoking rates continue, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today who are younger than 18 years of age will die prematurely as a result of smoking.
- Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature disease and death in the U.S.
- Secondhand smoke (SHS) is also a serious problem. It contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and at least 80 known to cause cancer.
- SHS can trigger an asthma attack. A severe asthma attack can put a child’s life in danger.
Tobacco Free Schools in Pinellas County:
Pinellas County School District
University of South Florida – St. Petersburg
Stetson Law College
What can we do about this?
The Tobacco Free Coalition of Pinellas has a strong partnership with local schools and have been very successful in helping them adopt tobacco free policies. As usual, there is more work to be done. We offer presentations to parent groups, professional organizations, and school boards on current tobacco policy to increase awareness and enforcement efforts. Being aware of your school’s policy is important in ensuring that you have access to clean air–as a student, parent or staff. For more information, please contact (727) 588-4040 ext. 3171.