What Can Be Done?
Stopping the Trend
There are several options to help reduce the number of teenage smokers. The first most
obvious change is implementing a tax increase on tobacco products so
that young people cannot afford them. Price plays a very large factor
in teenage smoking because of their lack of sufficient income.
Emphasize all the other possible ways your teenager could be spending
their money. Their hard earned money is literally going up in smoke.
Secondly, young and old children need to be educated about
tobacco in school. A ten minute discussion in health class about
tobacco is not working. Instead, devise a week long program with guest
speakers, videos, and pictures. Teachers can make it fun as well as
educational by giving awards to children for their participation. At
the end of the week, an award or a certificate can be given to every
child who has finished the class. The information given during this
anti-smoking week is as vital as learning how to read.
Thirdly, implement and strictly enforce a complete ban on smoking
by anyone on school grounds, in school buildings, on school buses, and
at school-sponsored events for students, school personnel, and
visitors. This will not only stop all the smoking peer pressure going
on at schools, but it will also make it very “uncool” to smoke,
especially at school. Bathrooms are a great place for teenage smokers
to get their quick fix. Frequently, administrators and teachers should
walk into the bathrooms looking and smelling for smoking students.
Detentions for these defiant students are just a slap on the wrists.
Detentions are a waste of time for students because they are not
accomplishing or learning anything. Schools should make the
disobedient students volunteer in respiratory units at local hospitals,
and/or volunteer for the community. School personnel should also be
punished for smoking on campus. A consequence for the faculty could be a pay
Decrease Exposure and Access
Lastly, teenagers’ exposure and access to cigarettes must be
drastically reduced. Ideally, Congress could ban all cigarette
advertising and all promotional uses of cigarette-brand logos. A
challenge on First Amendment grounds would be likely, but many legal
scholars believe the Supreme Court would uphold such a restriction
(Hall, 34). In addition to the advertising ban, vending machines would
also be banned, and all cigarette retailers should be required to pay
licensing fees to sell tobacco.
License laws provide a strong incentive for retailers to card
young-looking customers; if they are not careful, they could lose their
license and thus lose their adult customers. The government could also
enact a law requiring purchasers of tobacco products to be twenty-one
instead of eighteen. Realistically, no matter what is done about the
problem, people of all ages will be able to obtain cigarette if they
continue to be produced. Finally, tobacco products need to be out of
sight and out of reach for all minors.
Created by: Tracy Lynn Wise