If you have ever seen the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “Tips from Former Smokers,” then you have seen the harsh reality that smoking and secondhand smoke have on lives and the toll it has on the human body. These ads started in March 2012 in an attempt to “prevent young people from starting to use tobacco and helping those that smoke quit.” All the former smokers started tobacco in their teens and all are now living with the health problems and disabilities associated with using tobacco.
The TIPS ad campaign had results. Calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW increased 132 percent or 207,519 additional calls from the same time period in 2011. The website views increased 428 percent or had 510,571 additional unique visitors during the National Tobacco Education Campaign from March 19 – June 10, 2012 for the 18-54 age group.
Big Tobacco makes smoking look like fun, spending more than $1 million every hour of every day to get replacement smokers. And every day 1,000 young people under the age of 18 – the legal age to purchase and use tobacco in the U.S. – start using this deadly product. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Here in Florida our educators are given another weapon in that fight to stop Big Tobacco from manipulating our youth into starting and using their deadly products – The Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention Course. This course is in its third year statewide and sixth year in Palm Beach County. Teachers and guidance counselors are encouraged to take this course, at no cost to them, and receive professional development points upon completion of teaching six tobacco lessons to their students.
In the past two years, the Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention Course has reached about 35,000 students. This year alone if all our currently registered educators complete the course, 54,000 students will feel the impact of the tobacco prevention lessons. These are measurable numbers.
And it’s not just the kids who are affected by the tobacco prevention lessons. Educators are reporting that students take their new found knowledge home to their families and report back saying they were able to persuade family members to quit tobacco. Educators have also reported quitting tobacco after taking our course.
Can you imagine the impact this would have on Big Tobacco in Florida if we could reach every student from Kindergarten to 12th grade in our state? Can you imagine a generation growing up not interested in tobacco? Makes you smile, doesn’t it?