Although there have been non-smoking campaigns and smoking awareness programs, the smoking rate for North Florida teens is higher than the state average.
In 2014, the Florida Department of Health reported that 5.4 percent of Florida teens reported using tobacco products. This is the same rate that was reported in 2004.
Shannon Hughes, Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief expressed the departments concern.
“The Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida is concerned about smokeless tobacco use among the state’s young people,”said Hughes. “While cigarette use among Florida’s youth reached an all-time low in 2014, smokeless tobacco use has fluctuated but has not decreased compared to a decade ago.”
Hughes said, “Smokeless tobacco, like chew and dip, is harmful to health and is highly addictive. Once adolescents start using one tobacco product, they are more likely to experiment with others,”said Hughes. In fact, the use of multiple tobacco products – including cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco – is common among youth and young adults.”
Crystal Harley an occupational therapy senior from Miami shared her concerns about tobacco companies targeting the youth in their advertisements.
“Companies often times target teenagers because they are easily influenced. Smokeless tobacco comes in so many appealing flavors and teenagers feel the need to try it without testing the effects,” Harley said. “It seems as though the commercials aren’t getting through to the teenagers.”
According to Hughes, there’s a new campaign called The Facts Now, which launched in early January.
“The campaign gives teens and young adults in Florida the facts they need to know about tobacco so that they can make a real choice. The Facts Now has information about cigarettes and about smokeless tobacco,” Hughes said.
Roschelle Wright, a health-care management senior from Miami, Fla., is concerned with the physical effects of smoking.
“As a teen, smoking tobacco can enable you from participating in numerous activities such as sports. It makes it harder to breathe when you have excess build up in your lungs,” said Wright.
Deben Dents, health informatics and information senior from Miami, Fla. is concerned with tobacco use and it’s consequences.
“The consequence of tobacco does not discriminate against age. It can cause problems with your vision as well as cause cancer,” said Dents.
Hughes encourages FAMU students to learn more at thefactsnow.com or to follow the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.