Recent statistics from the Office of National Drug Control Policy released in February 2006 reveal that nearly 1.3 million teenagers started using tobacco during 2004. Since 2002, there has been an alarming trend: teenage girls have outnumbered teenage boys as new users of marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes.
The entire report is available to download in PDF format.
Even with all of the available information that exists on the health problems associated with active tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, cigarette makers manage to find over one million new teenage smokers each year. These new smokers easily replace the 440,000 people that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates die each year from a smoking-related illness.
Big Tobacco has a big marketing budget. In order to compete with the message, four groups need to work together to prevent those one million teenagers from picking up that first cigarette: parents, peers, schools, and the medical community.
Dr. Barry Hummel, a Pediatrician and one of our founding members, is spearheading our effort to reach out into the community, recruiting parents, teachers, and students to put pressure on the tobacco industry. At his urging, our physicians formed QuitDoc Foundation to promote tobacco awareness and prevention.
As a result of the Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and the individual states, the tobacco industry agreed to certain restrictions on advertising (click here for a summary of marketing restrictions). This agreement left several loopholes that are currently being exploited by the tobacco industry. The QuitDoc Foundation has developed programs aimed at warning children, parents, and educators of the current marketing practices of the tobacco industry, including:
Strange Candy: This program reviews flavored products that blur the lines between tobacco and candy.
SmokeScreeners: This program focuses on the impact of onscreen smoking in movies on youth tobacco use.
Store Alert!: This programs looks at the impact of point-of-purchase advertising in local retail stores
In addition to developing our own programs to address each of these issues, we are currently partnering with existing organizations to spread the message. Each year we also participate in events celebrating Kick Butts Day, the annual celebration of youth advocacy, leadership and activism sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. We have also coordinated local research on Point-of-Purchase advertising with StoreALERT.org.
Our efforts were rewarded in March 2008 with three grants from the Florida Department of Health to provide our innovative programs in three Florida counties: Dixie County, Gilchrist County, and Martin County. By July, 2015, we expanded the program to include twelve Florida counties. Click here for more information on our Community-Based Tobacco Prevention Grants.
To learn more about our school programs, or to let us know about other existing programs, please email Dr. Barry Hummel. You can click here to find out what kids are saying about our program.