Tobacco's Truths: Good and Bad News
The good news: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tobacco use by adolescents has declined substantially in the last 40 years.
Self-Management: Which are better: reasons to smoke or NOT to smoke? Why?
The bad news: Students’ rising use of e-cigarettes and hookahs has offset the healthy decrease in their use of traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes, available in a variety of candy and fruit flavors that appeal to young smokers, contain nicotine derived from tobacco and are, in fact, tobacco products. As of August 2016, the US Federal Drug Administration extended its regulatory power to include e-cigarettes. An evening spent huddling around the hookah (or water pipe) is roughly equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes.
According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale an aerosol (vapor) containing nicotine or other substances. To create e-liquid, the main component of e-cigarettes, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), and may also include flavorings, colorings and other chemicals. The American Lung Association has concluded that e-cigarettes are a tobacco product and are not safer than cigarettes.
The challenge continues: Young people who do not start using tobacco by age 18 will most likely never start. In a recent U.S. News and World Report article, Dr. Cora Breuner, who heads the Committee on Adolescence for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says it's difficult to get someone 30 or older to start smoking. “There are a lot more nicotine receptors in the brains of kids below 18 years of age. If you don't flood those receptors with nicotine, they just fade into the woodwork and go away."
The fundamentals of social and emotional learning work to foster the decision-making and emotional health that can keep kids on track. When it comes to cigarettes, vapes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, and kids, consider these SEL connections:
Responsible Decision-Making: Experts agree that smoking tobacco is very bad for our health. The scientific evidence is irrefutable: using tobacco causes irreparable damage. If people know this, why do some people still do it? Why do kids try it?
Social Awareness: How do others influence our choices to use or not to use tobacco products?