Surgeon General Calls Teen Smoking an Epidemic
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The US Surgeon General's office released a new report indicating that teen smoking isn't declining.


(Image Source: LA Weekly )   BY EMILY ALLEN   Wasn’t teen smoking so-1980s and 90s?  The U.S. surgeon general released a new report and apparently, it’s not a fad of the past.  Here is a newly released public service advertisement on teen smoking.   “At 12 I smoked my first cigarette.  At 15, I was addicted.  By 40, I’ll have lung disease.  At 50, I’ll die of a heart attack.”   It’s the first report on youth smoking since 1994 and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin is calling it a “pediatric epidemic,” according to NPR . Here are some statistics on teen smoking detailed in the report .   “Today nearly one in four high school seniors and one in three young adults under age 26 smoke.”   Youth smoking was on the decline but it stalled in 2007.  ABC News cited a study from Stanford researchers that reports the placement of tobacco ads has an impact on teens and their probability of lighting up. “Teens were much more likely to smoke when they were exposed to cigarette advertising in small retail stores like gas stations and convenience stores.”   The CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids told CNN tobacco companies target kids in gas stations by putting their ads next to slurpies or on the ice cream counter.  CNN’s senior medical correspondent also says menthol cigarettes are a kid-magnet.     “The menthol kind of works as an anesthetic so if you’re just starting to smoke it kind of helps that harsh smoke go down your throat more easily.  And if you look at Middle-schoolers who smoke, Suzanne, half of them smoke mentholated cigarettes.” But Altria Group, the parent of three tobacco companies, defended its advertising. — telling MSNBC in a statement, “it markets to adults through age-verified direct communications and in retail stores.”  It added its companies helped bring about the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. The report says sustained, comprehensive tobacco control programs will cut back on teen smoking.  But some media reports indicate state funding for these programs has declined because of tight budgets over the past couple years.