ORLANDO - The Orange County Health Department (OCHD) is emphasizing this year’s Surgeon General report which is calling on the nation to make the next generation tobacco-free. According to the report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, far too many youth and young adults are using tobacco. Today more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.2 percent of high school students and 3.8 percent of middle school students in Orange County reported current cigarette use, meaning they had smoked a cigarette at least once during the past 30 days. In Florida, more that 21,300 youth under the age of 18 become new smokers each year.
Each day more than 1,200 people die due to smoking. For every one of those deaths, at least two new youths or young adults become regular smokers. And 90 percent of these replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette before they turn age 18. The comprehensive report provides further scientific evidence on young people’s sensitivity to nicotine. The younger they are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to get addicted and the more heavily addicted they will become. Nicotine addiction will cause about 3 out of four teens to smoke into adulthood, even if they intend to quit after a few years.
“The evidence in the new Surgeon General’s report clearly demonstrates the need for intensified and sustained efforts to prevent our young people from using tobacco,” said Dr. Kevin M. Sherin, Director of the Orange County Health Department. “We know what works: comprehensive efforts that include mass media campaigns, and evidence-based school programs, and sustained community-wide efforts. We must redouble our efforts to protect the young people in Orange County. ”
The Orange County Health Department’s “all in” and Tobacco Prevention Programs work to prevent youth from starting the use of tobacco, and protect everyone from secondhand smoke by increasing awareness about the risk of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, providing cessation support and coordinating a SWAT (Students working Against Tobacco) club in Orange County public middle and high schools.
For more information about the health department’s “all in” and SWAT programs go to, www.orchd.com. Tobacco Cessation Classes are available through the Central Florida AHEC Tobacco Program. If you or someone you know wants to be free from tobacco, call the Florida Quitline at: 1-877-U-CAN-NOW for free counseling, nicotine patches, gum and other cessation aids.