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Tobacco Abuse

Here is a piece of good news - most people choose not to smoke. Which means if you are a non-smoker, feel good about the fact that you have made the same decisions as most of the people around you. However, if you are a smoker, you're welcome to join the majority who have chosen health.

Don't take our word for it. Ask your peers. A survey about smoking was conducted with more than 1,250 college and university students from campuses across the country in 1999. Below are the results of that survey:

  • 71 percent choose not to smoke cigarettes
  • 89 percent choose not to smoke cigars

In addition to their choices about smoking, here are some things college and university students said about the topic:

  • 98 percent of students agreed that smoking is harmful to your health.
  • 85 percent of students said they though smoking was a disgusting habit.
  • 77 percent of students prefer to socialize in a smoke-free environment.
  • 89 percent of the students said all things being equal, they would rather date a non-smoker.

If you are already a smoker, it's time to stop. You have probably already thought about it. Of course you are going to quit - someday. You've only been smoking for a year, or two, or five. But it's not a permanent thing, right? Do yourself a favor. Go find some 30 year olds, or 50 year olds, who smoke and ask them when they started. Surprise! Most started in the teen years or early 20s, and they were just going to smoke for a couple of years, too.

So why don't you quit? Part of you wants to. In fact, 70 percent of all current smokers report that they want to quit. That just goes to show how strong the addiction really is. Yes, addiction. You don't think so? Have you ever done any of these things?

  • Stood outside and shivered when it was freezing because that was the only place you could smoke?
  • Tried to light a cigarette on strange things such as coffee-makers or toaster oven because you were out of matches?
  • Arrived late for a meeting, class, event  because you had to "have your break?"
  • Did something crazy when you ran out of cigarettes, whether walking a mile to the only store still open or even taking pieces of other people's cigarettes from the ashtray and smoking the little that was left?

It's time to quit, don't you think?

A few reason never to start smoking

So, you know smoking isn't good for you, and since you value your health, you have decided to be a non-smoker. However, just in case you need a few more reasons to keep from starting, here they are:

  • If you start smoking, you'll regret it later.  Most people who are smokers wish they had never started.  In fact, 70 percent of young adult smokers said they would not have started if they could choose again.  Avoid that regret later, by not starting now.
  • You'll save a lot of money by not smoking.  Did you know that a person who smokes a pack a day (at $2.75 a pack), spends over $1,000 a year on cigarettes?  Do that's a thousand dollars a year for you to spend or save - a new stereo every year, or maybe Spring Break all paid for, or down payment on a car.
  • Most people find smoking a disgusting habit.  In addition to the health risks that smokers go through - there are a few other issues as well.  Like the fact that smokers smell - well, at least their hair, their clothes, not to mention their breath.  Then there are the yellow tar stains on a smoker's teeth and fingers.  Smoking does not make you look attractive.
  • You won't put your friends at risk.  The health risks of second-hand smoke are real.  If you smoke, the people around you, your roommates, your friends, your family, are increasing chances of developing cancer or heart disease.

(Taken from: "Yes, We Mind if You Smoke," The BACCHUS & GAMMA Peer Education Network, 1999.)

Some facts about cigarettes

  • It is estimated that 48 million adults currently smoke in the United States.
  • 48.6 percent of college and university students report either smoking or chewing tobacco in the last year. When asked about the last 30 days, the number drops to 37.4 percent.
  • Cigarettes contain at least 43 distinct cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Smoking is responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer cases.
  • It is estimated that 430,700 Americans die each year from the effects of cigarette smoke.
  • Smoking causes 19.5 percent (or 1 in 5) of all deaths in the United States each year.
  • In 1988, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that nicotine is just as addictive as heroin and cocaine.
  • Nearly 70 percent of people who smoke want to quit smoking completely.
  • 70 percent of adolescents who are currently smokers report they wish they had never started.
  • Did you know that a person who smokes a pack a day (at $2.75 a pack), spends more than $1,000 a year on cigarettes?

(Taken from: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Lung Association; Core Survey, Core Institute, Southern Illinois University; Severson, Herbert, Ph.D., "Enough Snuff: A Guide to Quitting." Oregon Research Institute: American Cancer Society, New York City Division, "Cigar Smoking - The Newest Trend that Everyone is Talking About," 1998)