Oklahoma Youth to Take a Stand Against Tobacco During Annual Take Down Tobacco Day

Story provided by TSET Healthy Living Program

Tobacco Stops With Me encourages Oklahomans to participate in Take Down Tobacco Day on March 18, 2020. Take Down Tobacco Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand up, speak out, and seize control against Big Tobacco.  Take Down Tobacco Day is a fresh take on Kick Butts Day, which was a day of action designed to discourage youth from smoking conventional cigarettes. The day has been rebranded with the purpose of addressing the rise in youth e-cigarette use, which has reversed the progress that has been made toward achieving a tobacco-free generation. 

The use of JUUL and other e-cigarettes is rising among teens and young adults in our state, but Oklahoma youth also have the power to educate their peers and decision makers about the harm caused by these tobacco products. On Take Down Tobacco Day, youth in Oklahoma and across the country will stand up to the tobacco industry and its deceptive practices so that more of their friends and peers won’t ever take up its addictive products.

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in Oklahoma, killing more than 7,500 people every year. Each year in Oklahoma, 1,800 kids become new daily smokers. There has been a significant increase in e-cigarette use by youth, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The survey data showed that a decade of progress in lowering youth use of addictive nicotine products has been erased by increases in young people using e-cigarettes. The 2018 survey showed a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48% increase in e-cigarette use among middle school students. 

In December 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory on the youth e-cigarette epidemic. And in the fall, many cases of vaping related illness and death surfaced all across the United States. As of January 13, 2020, there have been 2,602 reported cases of vaping illness, and 59 deaths from using e-cigarettes. 

“We have evidence-based strategies to prevent tobacco use that can be applied to e-cigarettes.” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. “We must take action now to protect the health of our nation’s young people.” 

Although Oklahoma smoking rates have declined, tobacco companies still spend $172 million yearly to market tobacco products in Oklahoma, particularly to youth and young adults. Companies know that if kids are addicted to tobacco by age 18, they are likely to become lifelong smokers. 

If you are interested in planning an advocacy event or would like more information on how to take down tobacco, visit takedowntobacco.org. 

Tobacco Stops With Me, a program of TSET, provides tools and information to Oklahomans so they can choose to support healthier tobacco-free environments where they live, work, learn, and play. 

More information about JUUL, other e-cigarettes, and traditional tobacco products is available at StopsWithMe.com. Oklahomans 14 and older can also learn more about the free cessation resources offered by the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at OKhelpline.com.

About Tobacco Stops With Me
Tobacco Stops With Me is a statewide campaign, funded through the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust, that provides an efficient, emotional, and highly recognizable tobacco-free message for Oklahomans to rally around. By educating the public about the negative effects and impact of tobacco, the goal of Tobacco Stops With Me is to prevent and reduce tobacco use and improve the health and quality of life of every Oklahoman. Tobacco Stops With Me aims to inspire individuals to make positive changes—not only for their own health, but for the health of the entire state as well.

About TSET
The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement, and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more, go to tset.ok.gov.