To many, the solution to this problem is raising the minimum age. A study has shown that there could be an estimated 50,000 fewer deaths by raising the minimum age of purchasing tobacco products to 21.
So, what are the alarming facts that puts youth’s health in such a compromising state? AAP released a technical report on how to protect children from nicotine and tobacco smoke. The report lists 19 points on how tobacco harms children and also provides examples of potential policy solutions. A few of the points that the report has listed are, that more than one-half of children in the United States have evidence of tobacco smoke exposure, tobacco kills people when used as intended, and tobacco smoke exposure harms children. Each of the 19 points expressed by the report are backed with research from many differing sources.
The AAPS suggested solutions include an assortment of environmental strategies.
Environmental strategies are defined as, “Environmental strategies incorporate prevention efforts aimed at changing or influencing community conditions, standards, institutions, structures, systems and policies,” Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and National Community Anti-Drug Coalition Institute said.
Some of the strategies suggested by the AAP include; prohibiting the use of all tobacco products including nicotine delivery systems, comprehensive smoking bans, increase product prices, and regulating tobacco product advertising and promotion in forms that are accessible.
AAP efforts would primarily use policy as the guiding environmental strategy in most of the points that were laid out.
In terms of public support, the AAP is not alone, numerous groups like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Twenty One Reasons are actively trying to make a change. Twenty One Reasons is a group based out of Honolulu, Hawaii, that is trying to reduce the harm that tobacco products are causing in their community.
Many other groups similar to Twenty One Reasons can be found throughout the country. Clearly, there is a very concerning issue with the sale of tobacco and the effects it has on youth. Especially with the new e-cigarette trend.
The next steps? Many of these groups aimed to combat this issue are sticking to the plan of “High tobacco taxes, comprehensive smoke-free laws and comprehensive tobacco prevention are proven strategies to reduce tobacco use and save lives,” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said.
How can you help? Look into how tobacco products may be negatively effecting youth in your community and judge what steps can be taken to improve the environment surrounding youth to ultimately save lives.