The Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention Teacher Training Course welcomes back Florida educators to the 2011-2012 school year. The course was originally developed for Palm Beach County Schools teachers and guidance counselors and after three years was taken to the state level. This marks its fifth year in existence and the second year it has been offered at the state level. Over 900 teachers registered last year for the free course, and many of those were able to receive continuing education units toward re-certification.
Tobacco prevention at the school level is an important way to educate students to the health dangers of tobacco. According to the results of the 2010 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 16.8% of middle school and 37.3% of high school students had tried smoking at least once. According to the CDC 2009 figures, 20.6% of all adults smoke in the U.S. That is an estimated 46 million people. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., accounting for 1 in 5 deaths each year.
In the area of smokeless products in Florida, 5.7% of middle school students and 11.9% of high school students reported trying this form of tobacco. The figures from the 2009 CDC report show 2.6% of all middle school students and 6.1% of all high school students using smokeless tobacco. According to the numbers, Florida high school students are above the national average for smokeless tobacco use. While these figures for smokeless tobacco are lower than cigarettes, new forms of smokeless products are being introduced as smoking bans become the norm.
Teaching students about the health dangers of tobacco will help reduce the number of future tobacco users and thereby improve their overall health. You can start by going to www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org and registering. You will need to know your Florida Dept. of Education teacher certificate number when you register. We look forward to having another great year.