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America's Teens Keep On Smoking

Nearly 4,000 US teenagers take up the killer habit each day.

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An all-too-common sight Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

03/09/12

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The Surgeon General's Office declares that teen smoking is an American epidemic, with one in five high school-aged youths smoking cigarettes. The first report issued on teen smoking since 1994 states that large numbers of teenagers—an estimated 3,800—take up this deadly habit every single day. "Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and three million high school students smoke," reports Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. "We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life." Even though the number of teens smoking is down on past decades, the rate of decline is slowing. Nine out of 10 current smokers started before they hit 18, and around 99% of all new tobacco use happens by the age of 26. The report also denounces tobacco companies for attempting to market to youth by making smoking seem attractive and cool. "This report highlights the urgent need to employ proven methods nationwide that prevent young people from smoking and encourage all smokers to quit,” says John Seffrin, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “This includes passage of smoke-free laws, increases in tobacco excise taxes and fully funded tobacco prevention programs."

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