Millions of Americans have improved their health and increased their access to affordable life insurance premiums by giving up smoking. However, the habit continues to be an issue as public health professionals remain focused on convincing young people never to start smoking in the first place.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports smoking and smokeless tobacco habits are established primarily during adolescence. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99 percent by age 26.
Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers become daily cigarette smokers.
The CDC notes that if this trend continues, approximately 5.6 million of today’s young American will die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.
Contributing elements to this trend include but are not limited to the following factors – social and physical environments, peer pressure, cognitive and affective processes, biological and genetic factors as well as specific demographics.
In order to help reduce young tobacco use, national, state and local programs have been launched to reverse this deadly trend. Anti-tobacco campaigns, community programs and anti-smoking legislation have been growing in number over the past decade to help reduce and prevent youths from smoking.
“Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in this country and nine out of 10 adults started smoking in their teens or earlier. The slow progress since 2003 tells us that much more needs to be done to reduce youth smoking,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.
Quitting the habit can be one of the most difficult tasks a person will ever undertake. The health and insurance benefits of never having started smoking should be taken into consideration.