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Work to keep your kids happy, healthy and tobacco-free

Published on September 28, 2017

Work to keep your kids happy, healthy and tobacco-free

Julie K. Anderson, MD, Family Medicine
St. Cloud Medical Group South Campus

Tobacco-free kidsTobacco use among teens and adolescents is still a problem in our country. While recent surveys have seen a decline in cigarette use, there has been a near three-fold increase in e-cigarettes used by teenagers in the last few years.

Tobacco products are responsible for one out of five deaths and more than $289 billion in health care costs annually in the U.S. In Minnesota, that equals about $554 per man, woman and child spent on the effects of tobacco.

Over the past decade, five states and over 260 cities across the U.S. have chosen to increase the purchase age of tobacco from 18 to 21. The driving reason behind this effort is simple — 90 percent of adult tobacco users started smoking prior to the age of 18. Although 18-20-year-olds purchase only 2 percent of cigarettes sold, they are 90 percent of the supply to younger children. If access of tobacco products can be restricted to those under 21, teen smoking rates drop by over 25 percent.

Children see images that make smoking seem attractive and appealing everywhere — in movies, on TV, in video games and online. Although cigarettes can no longer be advertised on TV, radio, billboards or in magazines that appeal to youth, electronic cigarettes can be advertised anywhere. And electronic cigarettes still contain nicotine, which is addictive and has been identified as having a negative impact on the adolescent developing brain.

Parents, you are the greatest influence in your children’s lives. Talk to your kids about the reasons to avoid tobacco use:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Erectile dysfunction (this gets their attention!)
  • Stained teeth and fingernails

Protect your kids from secondhand smoke. Keep your home and vehicle smoke-free. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have more:

  • Ear infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Asthma attacks
  • Absences from school

You also can make a difference by supporting Tobacco 21, a policy to make 21 the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco. Learn more.

In Minnesota, tobacco prevention and control activities are working. We have reduced the number of people who smoke as well as positively impacted tobacco-related diseases and deaths. For every dollar we spend on tobacco prevention, we can reduce the tobacco-related health care cost by up to $55.

The statewide tobacco control program strives to:

  • Prevent young people from starting tobacco use
  • Assist tobacco users in quitting
  • Protect people from secondhand smoke

We all want to ensure a healthy, vibrant next generation. Let’s make this our legacy for our kids and grandkids!

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About the Author

Julie Anderson, MDJulie Anderson, MD
Family Medicine
St. Cloud Medical Group South Campus
Learn more about Dr. Anderson 

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