Stand Up to Big Tobacco this World No Tobacco Day

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Tobacco Stops With Me Offers Tips to Reduce Youth Tobacco Use
OKLAHOMA CITY – (May 31, 2016) –Tobacco use still remains a problem in Oklahoma, and tobacco companies are working harder than ever to attract a new generation of tobacco users. In fact, each day in the United States, more than 3,800 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette.

In Oklahoma, 23.1 percent of high school students are current tobacco users, and 3,300 kids become regular smokers each year. Additionally, tobacco claims 7,500 lives and costs the state $1.62 billion in healthcare costs annually.

In an effort to support a healthier future for Oklahoma youth, Tobacco Stops With Me, a program of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), is encouraging Oklahomans to stand up to Big Tobacco on World No Tobacco Day on May 31 and throughout the year.

“Tobacco companies still target youth with magazine ads, product placement, candy-flavored small cigars and more,” said Tracey Strader, executive director of TSET. “On World No Tobacco Day, parents are encouraged to educate their children about the dangers of tobacco. Oklahoma youth are encouraged to educate their peers about the deceptive marketing practices used by the tobacco industry to target young people.”

Although certain advertising practices, such as the use of cartoon characters and billboards, were banned as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – more than $1 million every hour – to market their products, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In Oklahoma alone, tobacco companies spend $181 million annually to market their deadly products. The tobacco industry needs Oklahoma kids and young adults to become “replacement smokers,” offsetting Big Tobacco’s revenue losses from the 21 Oklahomans that die every day from a tobacco-related illness or disease.

Recent research findings show that youth also believe brightly colored, candy-flavored tobacco products are less dangerous and less addictive than non-flavored tobacco. In fact, 37 percent of Oklahoma high school students have smoked flavored cigars. In general, of high school students who try smoking, 80 percent become adult smokers, despite intending to quit after a few years.

To combat Big Tobacco and reduce and prevent youth tobacco use on World No Tobacco Day and throughout the year, Tobacco Stops With Me is offering the following tips for parents:

• Talk directly to your children about the risks of tobacco. Your attitudes and feelings can greatly influence whether or not your child smokes.
• Educate your children on the harmful effects of flavored tobacco products, such as little cigars or dissolvable tobacco, and emphasize that they are all still just as harmful as cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.
• If your child has friends who smoke, talk about ways to defend against peer pressure.
• Make sure your child’s school is providing tobacco education and smoking prevention programs to students – and not programs funded by Big Tobacco.
• Encourage kids to participate in youth initiatives like World No Tobacco Day and Kick Butts Day.
• If you’re a parent who uses tobacco, think about quitting. Talk with your doctor and call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT NOW for free coaching. While you’re quitting, don’t use tobacco in your child’s presence and don’t leave it where they can easily access it.
• Youth who are already using tobacco products are also able to use the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline’s services. Quit coaching is available for callers 13 years and older. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit OKhelpline.com for more information.

Visit StopsWithMe.com for more information about how tobacco is still a problem for Oklahoma’s youth, health, non-smokers and economy. Connect with Tobacco Stops With Me through social media by liking the TSWM page on Facebook or following @StopsWithMe on Twitter.

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