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.

Educate Children

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.

Prohibit Smoking

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 cut.

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.

Continue to Finale

Created by: Tracy Lynn Wise
E-mail: twise@ufl.edu