According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly 1 of every 5 deaths, each year, in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.
Additionally, smoking causes an estimated 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women.
The GRAAB Coalition (Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors) recognizes the challenges ahead of us and wants to provide the community with the tools to help address this issue.
Recently, we became aware of data at the state level which gave us cause for concern. In light of this data, we will increase our efforts to address youth tobacco use and attempt to find resources for those struggling to quit.
As of December 2012, the state of Tennessee ranks 45th in protecting youths from tobacco use, this according to a report published by the CDC. Additionally, a corresponding report states that 21.6 percent of Tennessee high schools students smoke, with 7,600 of our Tennessee youth (under the age of 18) becoming daily smokers each year.
What is even more shocking are the deaths related to smoking in Tennessee, as adults who die each year from their smoking number 9,700. The same data projects 132,000 youth in Tennessee under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
We also need to consider the cost to the residents in the state of Tennessee as well. Annual health care costs in Tennessee directly caused by smoking have totaled $2.16 billion.
If we can educate our youth on the dangers of tobacco use, then maybe, just maybe, we can save one life. Working with our existing partners, we are updating our plan and tailoring it to fit our community. We hope to be the example other communities in the state follow, and we want to help our state increase their efforts in intervention.
The consequences of using tobacco in any form can be devastating: increased risk of cancer, reproductive issues, heart disease, stroke and death. But prevention is possible, and is as important now as ever before, especially among young people. It’s also important for individuals who currently smoke or use tobacco — even if only occasionally — to stop. The longer a person smokes, the more damage is done to the body. Quitting at any age has immediate benefits.
The mission of the GRAAB Coalition is to bring together concerned members and service providers of the community to facilitate lowering the misuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, as well as other addictive behaviors, in Bradley County, by providing effective education, recovery and support for youth, families and the community.
For more information on this topic, GRAAB programming or volunteer opportunities available from the GRAAB Coalition, please call us at 423-472-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website for regular updates as well, www.graabcoalition.com.
(Editor’s Note: Today’s National Prevention Week “Viewpoint” was written and submitted by Tanya Southerland, executive director of the GRAAB Coalition. Monday’s installment will feature “Prevention of Underage Drinking.”)