Preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ensuring healthy adults because tobacco use and subsequent addiction most frequently take root in adolescence. More than 20% of all deaths in the United States are attributable to tobacco, making tobacco use the chief preventable cause of death. Teens who smoke are also more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
Every year, 14,600 Tennessee youth under 18 years of age become daily smokers. At this rate, 128,300 Tennessee youth alive today will die an early, preventable death because of a decision made as a child. Also, 488,000 youth are exposed to secondhand smoke at home and 21.7 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by Tennessee youth each year. (Source: National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, fact sheet, www.tobaccofreekids.org)