Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Child Health Day



Actually, there are two Child Health Days! National Child Health Day is in October... but today's Child Health Day is all about teaching children about the dangers of tobacco use and encouraging them to stay smoke free.

Here are some interesting facts you might not know, about kids and cigarettes.

1. Out of all the tobacco companies in the USA, there are three brands that account for almost all teen smoking. Two-thirds of teen smokers choose Marlboro. Newport is the second favorite of kids, followed by Camel. Only 2% of young smokers use other brands of cigarettes.

2. It is illegal to sell tobacco products to kids, and most stores have strict policies against it... but 65% of young smokers in grades 8 to 12 have adult relatives or friends who buy cigarettes for them.

3. In 2006, the RJ Reynolds company (makers of Camel cigarettes) agreed to stop selling fruit and candy flavored cigarettes, with flavors like "Twista Lime", "Mandarin Mint" and "Cherry Cheesecake", which experts said were aimed at getting kids to start smoking early. But recently, the company has launched yet another line of flavored cigarettes. This time the names of the cigarette flavors are more mature-sounding: Robust, Frost, Infused and Mellow. But the flavors are all sweet and candy-like, just like the first round!

4. Remember the candy cigarettes we used to eat as kids? Some people think that these chocolate, sugar or bubblegum cigarettes have been banned in the USA... but you can still buy them! The jury seems to be hung on whether these candy products can encourage kids to smoke. In fact, some former smokers say they actually used the candy cigarettes to replace regular cigarettes, in order to help them stop smoking the real thing!

5. Kids with ADHD and learning disabilities may be more susceptible to smoking, because nicotine can help improve focus. If kids with ADHD or learning disabilities try smoking and notice that it helps their concentration and behavior, they may use cigarettes to self-medicate.

6. A few years ago, a study was done on the "shopping habits" of children ages two to six. The children were given Barbie dolls and were allowed to take their dolls shopping in a mini grocery store,s tocked with everything they might find in a regular grocery store. The children typically purchased things they enjoyed, such as cake, as well as things their parents usually bought, such as meat, fruits and vegetables. But 62% of the children bought alcohol, and 28% bought cigarettes. Children whose parents smoked were 4 times as likely to buy cigarettes.

Smoke Free Society has some wonderful web pages up, and today is the perfect day to explore them. If you have children, or work with children, visit their page for kids. There's a lot of information there for kids, presented in a simple way... and they're even working on a program where kids will be able to earn points, and exchange them for prizes, by staying smoke-free and helping others do the same!

If you are a parent, be sure to check out their page for parents, all about how you can help your children to stay smoke-free. And if you are a smoker yourself, you can even visit their page about quitting!

Have a smoke free day!

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