Letters to the editor: Harmful affects of tobacco on the youth of Utah
Although the government is making an effort to discourage teens from using tobacco; I wanted to bring the issue to the attention of parents. More than 1 million teens become smokers each year in the United States. That means over 3,000 start smoking every day. Adult smokers that started as teens have a much harder time breaking the habit. Since more than 80 percent of adult smokers began in their teens, it seems it would be to our benefit to prevent teens from starting in the first place.
Health activists are pressuring Utah Law Makers to add an additional tax on tobacco products of $1.30. Recently released data shows that this bill is supported by 67 percent of majority leaders in all political parties. When this law passes hopefully we will see a decrease in teen tobacco use.
"This report shows that raising tobacco taxes is truly a win-win-win for Utah. It is a budget win that will help protect vital programs like health care and education, a health win that will prevent kids from smoking and save lives, and a political win with the voters," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Nearly all teen smokers start before high school graduation. Growing up in a small town, tobacco use has always been a big issue. More than 90 percent of my childhood friends are addicted to tobacco. The addiction began for most of us around age 15. When teens start using tobacco at age 15 they do not realize they will be using it for the rest of their lives; they become addicted before they realize they are addicted. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are the easiest drugs for youth to get, and is all too often the gateway drug leading to more harmful addictions.
Teenagers get a rush by breaking the law or resisting their parents, this is an addiction within itself. Many parents are too naive, they need to be more aware of their children's whereabouts, and encourage involvement in positive social activities. Many children start using tobacco because of low self-esteem; it helps them to feel accepted. For others it is a way to suppress their feelings and troubles, to relax. Teens need to know the life long side effects of their choice to use tobacco, because it will affect the rest of their lives.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in our country.