County health department wants to see Jackson schools tobacco-free

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JACKSON, MI (WILX) -- The Jackson County Health Department wants to see Jackson schools tobacco-free.

They released statistics of kids smoking and the numbers are up.

They say that in 2017, 10.5% of Michigan high school students currently smoked cigarettes, and 23% are current tobacco users including e-cigarettes. Data from the following year indicated a sharp increase in youth use of e-cigarettes in many Michigan counties. In Jackson County, between 2016 and 2018, youth e-cigarette use increased from 16.7% in 2016 to 23.8% in 2018, a 43% increase.

And, each year 4,400 Michigan kids under age 18 become new, daily smokers. 213,000 kids under 18 and alive in Michigan today will ultimately die prematurely from smoking, they reported.

“Although we have made significant progress in protecting our youth from tobacco-related health harms, we still have a long way to go,” stated Sarah Allison, Tobacco Reduction Health Educator for the Jackson County Health Department. “Far too many of our children are still using tobacco and are being exposed to the health harms caused by secondhand smoke. It is essential that we address e-cigarette use among young people, and do everything we can to prevent youth tobacco use, which can lead to a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product.”

The Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams, issued an advisory in 2018 that said: the use of products containing nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe for youth. The brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-20s. Exposure to nicotine during periods of significant brain development, including adolescence, can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention and learning. Effects can be long-lasting and can include lower impulse control and mood disorders.

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

So as kids head back to the hallways, the Jackson County Health Department encourages parents and health care providers to talk to kids about tobacco use and to remind kids that spit tobacco and e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.

They say providing a tobacco-free example and home environment can also help to protect kids from tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. In addition, tobacco-free school policies that include treatment options for students using tobacco products, and raising the age of sale of tobacco, including e-cigarettes and other electronic devices, to 21 years of age can help to prevent youth initiation of tobacco use and help tobacco users to quit.

HELP WITH QUITTING:
- For young people who have already begun to use tobacco and want to quit, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services now offers the My Life My Quit program designed specifically for young people.
- Youth under 18 can text or call 855-891-9989 for free confidential help with quitting smoking or other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
- The My Life My Quit program offers a self-guided online program, interactive text messaging and text reminders.
- In addition, the Quitline itself provides services for Michigan youth of any age.
- Young people can call the Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW and receive free telephone counseling to help them quit tobacco.
- The Smokefree Teen website available at http://teen.smokefree.gov/ provides tools to help young people quit.

For more information on e-cigarettes and youth visit https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/.

For more information,including assistance with updating tobacco-free school policies, contact Sarah Allison at the Jackson County Health Department Tobacco Reduction Program 517-768-2131.

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