Preventing tobacco use among young people; a report of the Surgeon General : executive summary
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Preventing tobacco use among young people; a report of the Surgeon General : executive summary

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  • Alternative Title:
    Report of the Surgeon General
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  • Description:
    This Surgeon General's report on smoking and health is the twenty-third in a series that was begun in 1964 and mandated by federal law in 1969. This report is the first in this series to focus on young people. It underscores the seriousness of tobacco use, its relationship to other adolescent problem behaviors, and the responsibility of all citizens to protect the health of our children. Since 1964, substantial changes have occurred in scientific knowledge of the health consequences of smoking and smokeless tobacco use. Much more is also known about programs and policies that encourage nonsmoking behavior among adults and protect nonsmokers from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Although considerable gains have been made against smoking among U.S. adults, this progress has not been realized with young people. Onset rates of cigarette smoking among our youth have not declined over the past decade, and 28 percent of the nation's high school seniors are currently cigarette smokers. The onset of tobacco use occurs primarily in early adolescence, a developmental stage that is several decades removed from the death and disability that are associated with smoking and smokeless tobacco use in adulthood. Currently, very few people begin to use tobacco as adults; almost all first use has occurred by the time people graduate from high school. The earlier young people begin using tobacco, the more heavily they are likely to use it as adults, and the longer potential time they have to be users. Both the duration and the amount of tobacco use are related to eventual chronic health problems. The processes of nicotine addiction further ensure that many of today's adolescent smokers will regularly use tobacco when they are adults. Preventing smoking and smokeless tobacco use among young people is critical to ending the epidemic of tobacco use in the United States. This report examines the past few decades' extensive scientific literature on the factors that influence the onset of use among young people and on strategies to prevent this onset. To better understand adolescent tobacco use, this report draws not only on medical and epidemiologic research but also on behavioral and social investigations. The resulting examination of the advertising and promotional activities of the tobacco industry, as well as the review of research on the effects of these activities on young people, marks an important contribution to our understanding of the epidemic of tobacco use in the United States and elsewhere. In particular, this research on the social environment of young people identifies key risk factors that encourage tobacco use. The careful targeting of these risk factors--on a communitywide basis--has proven successful in preventing the onset and development of tobacco use among young people.

    Includes bibliographical references (p. 11).

    Shipping list no.: 1994-0111-P.

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