Health and Environmental Harms of Tobacco
Angela Bereznak, Clark County Health Department
Over the past quarter
century, the U.S. has made remarkable progress in recognizing the harms of
tobacco use and educating the public about such harms. Youth smoking rates have
decreased over the years, in regards to combustible cigarettes, however, youth vaping rates have skyrocketed in the past
few years. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, from 2017 to 2019,
current e-cigarette use more than doubled among high school students (from
11.7% to 27.5%) and tripled among middle school students (from 3.3% to 10.5).
Altogether, more than 5.3 million kids now use e-cigarettes – an increase of
over 3 million in just two years.
contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug that can cause lasting damage to the
adolescent brain during a critical time in development. Additionally,
e-cigarettes can also expose individuals to harmful and carcinogenic chemicals.
Kick Butts Day (KBD) is also known
as Take Down Tobacco; it is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ signature
platform for empowering people to stand up and speak out against the tobacco
industry. The Take Down Tobacco program is a 365 day a year effort that
culminates every March with the Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action. This
year, Take Down Tobacco's National Day of Action is Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
On KBD, youth activists, educators,
parents, health advocates, and concerned citizens will take part in events in
numerous cities and counties throughout the Unites States. Events will focus on
various topics such as: Raising awareness of the tobacco problem in
communities, encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive
marketing tactics, and urge elected officials to take action to protect
individuals of all ages from tobacco. For more information about Kick Butts
Day/Take Down Tobacco, visit: www.takedowntobacco.org.
Clark County, the Clark County Health Department is partnering with George
Rogers Clark High School and Phoenix Academy in acknowledging and celebrating
Kick Butts Day/Take Town Tobacco. Students from both schools will pick up
tobacco related products on their campuses.
In addition to the health hazards
that cigarettes and e-cigarettes cause, they also harm the environment. Cigarette butts are made
of cellulose acetate, a plastic that accumulates nicotine and other toxins from
the smoked cigarette and can be harmful or fatal if swallowed by children or
animals. Thousands of birds die each year due to eating discarded cigarette
butts. Cigarette butts are the most prevalent category of waste worldwide found in clean-ups. electronic cigarettes pose long-term an even
graver environmental threat. Because they are primarily composed of plastics
and electronics, not only are they more energy- and resource-intensive to
manufacture, but as disposable computerized plastic products, they leach far
more chemicals than the average cigarette butt, which is already known to be
toxic. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are perhaps pending biggest
environmental tobacco threat facing communities and public health. For
more information about the environmental harms of tobacco, visit: //ash.org/earth-free-of-tobacco-waste/