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Did you know…

Youth Tobacco Use

  • Most smokers start before they graduate from high school?
  • The younger you start tobacco use, the more likely you are to use it as an adult?
  • If you start using tobacco regularly while you are young you are more likely to have trouble quitting?
  • Nicotine addiction-related diseases will prematurely kill one-third of young smokers?
  • Toxic substances inhaled or swallowed during smoking or use of other tobacco products cause cancer?
  • Tobacco-related health problems youth smokers face:
    • Breathing Issues: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, respiratory illnesses, poor lung growth and function
    • More headaches, increased phlegm, worse cold and flu symptoms, reduced fitness, worse overall health

Youth smokers prematurely age and are at risk for dying earlier. Smoking-related health problems they face over time: gum disease, hearing loss, vision problems, blood vessel disease (can lead to heart attacks or strokes), chronic lung diseases including emphysema and bronchitis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a fact sheet that shows the relationship between youth tobacco use and reduced academic performance. Learn more here.

Smokeless Tobacco Products (spit, chew, snuff, snus, etc.)

Chewing Tobacco


Although smoke is not generated to affect others nearby, smokeless tobacco users swallow concentrated toxic juices that can cause cancers (and pre-cancers) of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, and pancreas. Their gums recede, they develop gum disease, and this can worsen so that teeth fall out. Nicotine addiction is a serious threat.

Electronic Cigarettes

E-cigaretteElectronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are devices that allow users to mimic the act of smoking a cigarette while inhaling nicotine and other chemicals. Instead of smoke burning from tobacco, users inhale vapor from this battery-operated devise. The “smoke” emitted from e-cigarettes consists of nicotine, flavor additives and other chemicals.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has not released a policy statement about e-cigarettes to date. The Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies are also carefully evaluating the health risks of e-cigarettes. ODH does not endorse e-cigarettes as a tobacco cessation device. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in Fall 2013 that stated that use of e-cigarettes by youth doubled between 2012 and 2013.

The Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry markets its products directly to youth and young adults. Most lifelong smokers begin the habit before the age of 18. If the tobacco industry can create addictions, they sell more products. Although federal legislation severely restricts tobacco advertising, the tobacco industry directs advertising to influence groups that are most at risk – including youth and young adults. Tobacco industry influence on the movie industry results in portrayal of smoking in many movies targeted toward the most at-risk groups.

Learn about tobacco-free policies for middle schools and high schools

Learn about smoke-free and tobacco-free policies for colleges