Learning institutions are in a better position to fight the use of tobacco products among the children. Children spend a considerable share of their time in school. As a result, they acquire the smoking behaviors from their peers in school (Goldstein et al. 295).
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Over 80% of the adult smokers claim that the practice originated from school. Research conducted in American schools in 2015 showed that a significant number of eighth, tenth and twelfth-grade students use tobacco products. Some students claimed that the behavior started when they were in the sixth grade. Nicotine is “a highly addictive drug and adolescents who are still going through critical periods of growth and development are particularly vulnerable to its effects” (Adams et al. 19).
Thus, it is imperative for the schools to initiate programs and implement policies that prohibit the use of tobacco products within the precincts of the learning institutions. Statistics show that in the United States, the number of young smokers increase by over 2,100 youths every day. Besides, each day, over 3,200 teens use tobacco products for the first time. The statistics are startling and call for immediate action. This paper will discuss the prevention programs that schools use to deter smoking amid youths in the United States. The paper will also discuss the programs that Georgia has taken to resolve the issue of smoking in schools.
In the United States, the community in partnership with tobacco industry has come up with programs aimed at preventing tobacco use among the youths and young adults. One of such programs is the national 4-H program. The program facilitates the formulation of and implementation of initiatives aimed at preventing kids from engaging in smoking. The national 4-H program trains the youths and young adults in general life skills (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 4).
Additionally, the teens learn the consequences of indulging in cigarette smoking and how to make the right choices in life. The tobacco industry funds programs aimed at promoting positive growth amid youths. In 1990, the tobacco industry initiated a program dubbed “It’s the Law” that sought to ensure that retail stores do not sell cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors. However, the program was not effective in deterring retail stores from selling cigarettes to children.
Currently, the United States has laws that punish youths for smoking or using tobacco products (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 5). The only weakness of these laws is that they do not hold the tobacco industry and retailers into account for distributing tobacco products to youths and young adults.
The government of the United States has advocated the use of standardized packages for tobacco products, mainly cigarettes. The government requires tobacco companies to use plain boxes to pack the cigarettes. The use of branded boxes is cited as one of the factors that lead to youths using tobacco products. Presently, many tobacco companies use plain packages that only bear their brand name. Further, the companies ensure that the packages contain prominent health warnings. The use of standardized packages has helped to reduce the incidents of new cases of tobacco users among the youths (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 7).
Additionally, the use of clear health warnings has made many kids believe in the health hazards of cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products. Before the introduction of standardized packages, many youths thought that some brands of tobacco were more harmful than others. Besides, they believed that it was easier to quit using some brands than others. The government introduced the use of standardized packages to show that all tobacco brands were equally dangerous. It helped to demystify the beliefs that most youths had toward different brands of tobacco products, therefore discouraging them from using all brands.
The American government applies taxation mechanisms to regulate tobacco use among the teens and young adults. The government ensures that the consumer experiences the direct impact of the excise tax charged on tobacco products. The publication of the Surgeon General’s report revealed the eminent danger that smoking posed to the youths. The report led to the government raising the excise duty as a measure to reduce tobacco use (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 12).
The economists claimed that increase in excise duty helped to curb cigarette smoking amid the youths. Presently, tobacco products are among the highly taxed commodity in the United States. It has led to the tobacco products being too expensive for many youths. In return, it has discouraged many children from engaging in smoking.
Measures Taken by Schools
In the United States, many schools have initiated school-based education programs to enlighten the students on the dangers of using tobacco products. The programs focus on “all aspects of smoking, including the short and long-term adverse health effects, social acceptability, social influences, and peer pressure” (Bach 3). Additionally, the programs teach students on how to overcome the temptation to indulge in cigarette smoking. Media literacy is critical in preventing tobacco use amid youths and young adults.
Consequently, the school-based programs emphasize on media literacy. Students are trained in how to overcome the temptations that emanate from tobacco advertising. The schools ensure that students receive anti-tobacco instruction for the period that they stay in school. Besides the use of school-based educational programs, the learning institutions are pronounced tobacco-free zones (Bach 3). The administrations do not allow visitors, staff and students to use tobacco within the school premises.
Students tend to emulate their teachers or elders. Allowing teachers and guests to smoke within the school environment may send a bad message to students. It would be difficult for the society to discourage students from smoking or using tobacco products. Hence, no one is allowed to smoke within the school environment as a way to send a powerful message to the students.
Many schools train their teachers in how to discourage tobacco use amid the students. Teachers are equipped with skills to deliver tobacco deterrence syllabus. Further, many schools have reviewed their curriculums to include lessons that touch on the dangers of smoking. Some schools work in liaison with families and parents to sensitize the students about the dangers of tobacco use (Bach 4). Parents play a significant role in developing students’ perceptions about smoking.
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Thus, the schools appreciate the role of families and parents in managing tobacco use among students. Teachers encourage parents and family members to initiate discussions on the dangers of smoking to discourage students. Besides, family members are advised not to use tobacco products in the presence of their children.
Measures taken by States
States have taken numerous steps to prevent smoking amid the youths and young adults. One strategy that many states use is the counteradvertising initiative. California State is renowned for applying counteradvertising program. The state uses the strategy to counter misleading messages that the tobacco companies convey on their advertisements. The counteradvertising program focuses on exposing the lies that the tobacco companies peddle in their endeavor to promote tobacco use. Unfortunately, the program is gradually fading due to inadequate funding. The state of Florida has two programs that seek to prevent smoking amid students.
They are the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and the Truth Campaign (Goldstein et al. 295). The two programs have proved effective in preventing tobacco use among students. Unfortunately, the state’s legislators are not committed to the implementation of the programs. The programs are currently underfunded, a condition that might impinge on their effectiveness. The state of Florida has school-based programs that fight the use of tobacco products amid youths. The state takes the programs seriously and supports them like other initiatives that fight drug abuse. Through the programs, the government of Florida has managed to reduce the rate of tobacco use by over 35% (Goldstein et al. 297).
Georgia Smoke-Free Air Act of 2005
In 2005, the state of Georgia enacted the Smoke-Free Air Act as a measure to prevent youths and young adults from smoking. Additionally, the Act aims at protecting the citizens from “exposure to secondhand smoke in most enclosed indoor public areas to which the public is invited or in which the general public is permitted” (The State of Georgia 3). The Act abolishes smoking in all confined public areas like schools, workplaces, hospitals, restaurants, and bars among other public places.
Moreover, it requires the institutions, bars, and restaurants to display written policies concerning smoking for the employees and the public to see. The Smoke-Free Air Act requires bar and restaurant operators and organizational leaders to establish smoking zones and mark them clearly (The State of Georgia 4). The smoking zones should be located far from the working area to ensure that employees do not enter the place as they execute their duties. Additionally, institutional leaders should ensure that minors do not access the zones.
A person running a public facility, restaurant, bar or even a hospital should make sure that he/she has installed an independent air handling system in the smoking zone. The Smoke-Free Air Act has played a significant role in preventing tobacco use among the youths. Apart from prohibiting the youths from accessing smoking zones, the law ensures that the adults do not smoke in public. Therefore, the youths are not tempted to emulate the grownups.
Georgia State Tobacco Use Prevention Program (GTUPP)
Tobacco is considered as one of the major causes of death in Georgia. The rate of smoking among the youths has gone up tremendously prompting the government to look for ways to reverse the trend. The state of Georgia has come up with the GTUPP that seeks to control tobacco use in the state. The program involves the community in decision making. Additionally, the government of Georgia uses the program to conduct community-based training that helps the youths to acquire skills in how to gather data regarding tobacco use in the state (Georgia Department of Public Health 5).
The program has been active in promoting social norm change in the state. Indeed, tobacco deaths and morbidity are declining in Georgia. The prevention program alerts the society on the risks of exposure to secondhand smoke. On the other hand, the Georgia State Tobacco Use Prevention Program encourages and assists schools to espouse the model tobacco-free school (TFS) strategy. The program aims to raise the number of learning institutions that support tobacco-free school policy.
The government offers technical training and assistance to schools through the program. Besides, the program champions policy adoption for recreational facilities and schools (Georgia Department of Public Health 7). Schools are furnished with training materials to teach students on how to avoid tobacco use. The GTUPP has helped schools to come up with training programs to prevent youths from being introduced to smoking. The prevention program monitors schools to ensure that they remain tobacco-free.
Implementation and Enforcement of the Policy
Schools in George organize for education campaigns to sensitize the students and staff on tobacco-free school policy. Additionally, the employees and students are regularly updated on the results of the policy. Keeping the students and members of staff updated on the outcomes of the policy encourages them to support the program. Apart from sensitizing the staff members and students, the schools also notify other interested parties (Georgia Department of Public Health 8).
The parties include the community and individuals who visit the schools. The school boards are given the responsibility of implementing the policies. Staff members, students, and visitors are forbidden from using tobacco products at all times. The schools erect signs that prohibit people from using tobacco products in all school precincts as part of the implementation process.
The schools have regulations that outline the repercussions of using tobacco products. The students who violate the tobacco-free school policy are referred to school nurses or counselors for screening. The students are later placed under a program that enlightens them on the dangers of tobacco use. Additionally, they are trained in how to overcome the temptations of using tobacco. Any staff member who violates the policy is suspended, given an oral warning or terminated. Visitors who violate the tobacco-free school policy are demanded to leave the premises (Georgia Department of Public Health 9). Failure to comply may result in the school administration filing a complaint with the law enforcement agencies. Such a person can be prosecuted for violating the Georgia Smoke-Free Air Act.
Goals of Preventing Tobacco Use
The primary goals of preventing tobacco use among youths in Georgia are to reduce tobacco-related deaths and cut down on government expenditure. Smoking is one of the leading causes of death amid teens in Georgia. The state loses over 10,000 youths every year due to tobacco-related illnesses. On the other hand, the state spends over $5 billion to treat tobacco-related health complications (Georgia Department of Public Health 2). In this light, the state of Georgia hopes that it can stop these unnecessary deaths and expenses by encouraging the youths to refrain from using tobacco products.
The United States has come up with numerous programs to prevent tobacco use among the young people. Both the federal and state governments support anti-tobacco use programs aimed at discouraging youths from using tobacco products. The federal government regulates the advertising and branding of tobacco products. On the other hand, the state governments have launched counteradvertising campaigns to expose the lies that the tobacco companies use to lure customers. The states have also enacted laws that prohibit the use of tobacco products in public. Schools are in a better position to prevent tobacco use in youths.
Thus, the schools, in collaboration with state governments implement tobacco-free school policies that ensure that no one uses tobacco products in the school environment. The policies have prevented many youths from being initiated to smoking.
Adams, Monica, Leonard Jason, Steve Pokorny and Yvonne Hunt. “The relationship between School Policies and Youth Tobacco Use.” Journal of School Health 79.1 (2009): 17-23. Print.
Bach, Laura. 2015. How Schools can Help Students Stay Tobacco-Free. Web.
Georgia Department of Public Health. 2015. Georgia Tobacco Control: Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Web.
Goldstein, Adam, Arlana Peterson, Kurt Ribisi, Allan Steckler, Laura Linnan, Tim McGloin and Carol Patterson. “Passage of 100% Tobacco-Free School Policies in 14 North Carolina School Districts.” Journal of School Health 73.8 (2003): 293-299. Print.
The State of Georgia. 2012. Georgia Smoke-Free Air Act. Web.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2002. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General. Web.