Teen Smoking Prevention

At the State Level

Between 1999 and 2002, states spent increasing amounts of money on anti-smoking campaigns. The funding was from the 1998 settlement from the tobacco companies. The result of the campaigns was a significant drop in the number of Teen Smokers.

Unfortunately, since 2003, states reduced the funding for these campaigns by 28% using parts of the money to fill other budget needs. As a result, there is again an increase in teen smoking. States have learned the hard way that there is a direct linkĀ between the amount of funding and the increase or decrease in teen smoking.

Being Informed

Although we have a better understanding today about the addictive dangers of tobacco, the message either isn’t getting to the teens or is not being understood.

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. It has the potential of addicting over 80% of teens who experiment with it.

There are a number of reasons teens choose to smoke. One of the biggest reasons is that their parents do. If that is you, give your teen the example of stopping.

Another big reason is peer pressure. A way to lessen that danger is to get to know your kids’ friends and their parents. Invite the friends to go on family outings and to your house for activities. Be involved. The more you accept your teen’s friends, the more he will be willing to talk to you about what is going on.

If your teen is already smoking, tell him cigarettes are not allowed in your house. If you find them throw them away. Tell your teen that smoking makes him smell bad and you are not going to do his laundry. Assign him a night to do his own laundry.

Success Stories

Through efforts of state and local groups around the country many teens are learning the truth about smoking.

  • States have raised taxes on cigarettes which made them harder for teens to purchase. One analyst said raising the tax on cigarettes 10% could save more than a million teens from smoking.
  • The state of Florida has a “Truth” campaign from the Florida Tobacco Pilot Program. The program combated the tobacco billboard advertisements, which show beautiful models in bikinis, with billboards showing men who looked like tobacco executives wearing bikinis. It didn’t take long for teens to recognize the “Truth” logo and the campaign was hugely successful.
  • In addition to media, there is an in-school and after-school education program for every grade to help teen smokers quit. After 4 years, the number of teen smokers in middle school dropped by 47% and the number of teen smokers in high schools dropped by 30%
  • In Nebraska, teens felt “scare tactics” would be most effective on their peers. They found a teen who had survived losing half of his face to cancer from chewing tobacco. The boy came to the school and talked to the students, answering questions. At the end of the day, several students and some teachers had turned in their cigarettes.

It takes “A Whole Village” to fight the problem of teen smoking

  • At the state and local government level we need to insist on adequate funding for anti-tobacco programs.
  • We need to know what the statistics are at regular intervals so that we know what is working and what needs to be changed.
  • We need to teach the children from a young age about the dangers of addiction.

Encouragement for teen smokers who want to quit

Quit smoking benefits begin within minutes of the last cigarette.

At 20 minutes after quitting:

  • Blood pressure decreases
  • Pulse rate drops
  • Body temperature of hands and feet increases.

At 8 hours:

  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal

At 24 hours:

  • Chance of heart attack decreases

At 48 hours:

  • Nerve endings start re-growing
  • Ability to smell and taste improve


Preventing Teen Smoking Sources:

  1. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
  2. SpitzerĀ – Why Quit Smoking [online]
  3. Witmer – Parenting Adolescents