<Great American Smokeout>

Here are three “Rules of Thumb” to consider in light of the upcoming Great American Smokeout:

  (1) Someone who is not a smoker when they turn 18 will probably never become a lifetime smoker;

(2) No one starts smoking for the nicotine; and,

(3) The easiest way to quit smoking is to never start.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual event — this year is the 37th — widely recognized as a prompt to individuals who smoke or use smokeless tobacco to refrain for at least one day, and make a plan to quit for good. As those who have done it one or more times will report, quitting tobacco is not easy. Taking some time to make a personal quit plan is an important step toward being successful. Learn about medications, identify triggers, and practice being a non-smoker or chewer well in advance of a predetermined quit date.  

Yet while tobacco cessation is a large part of the Great American Smokeout event, there is really a much broader reach, and that’s where the Rules of Thumb come into play. Ninety percent of adult smokers started smoking before age 18, and it’s a good bet that for many of those middle and high schoolers, smoking was a social choice — a way to fit in, join a group, emulate a celebrity, or just get a head start on what appeared to be ‘normal’ adult behaviors. Much of building this ‘social norm’ was, and still is fueled by tobacco industry marketing.  

Socially driven choices and peer pressures are not likely to fade away; it is part of the growing up process for all of us. That’s why it is so important for teachers, parents, and caregivers to support the cultural norms change around tobacco and tobacco use.  

Among the most visible changes are the smoke-free outdoor areas now in place in Ithaca and around Tompkins County . Not only do these policies protect individuals from exposure to secondhand smoke, but they also play a critical role in getting tobacco use out of view in the public landscape. A new State law that expands the tobacco ban on school property outward to prohibit smoking within 100 feet of any school grounds serves to emphasize the importance of these points.  

Healthy habits start early in life, and growing minds often end up following what they see in “the field” over what they read in a book. Paying attention to health and wellness has the potential to shape lives both now and into the next generations.

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The Community Coalition for Healthy Youth

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Community Coalition for Healthy Youth

320 W. State/MLK Jr. Street

Ithaca NY 14850

www.healthyyouth.org

For more information on-line, go to Links Tips for Families, Parents and Youth Workers