Will the New Tax Keep Kids From Smoking?

will the $2 tax keep teens from smoking?It’s been in the news for some time now, and perhaps now you’ve accepted it as part of everyday life: Beginning October 1, a $2 tax on each purchase of cigarettes was levied, making the average price here in Philadelphia go from $5.85 to nearly $8 per pack. Lawmakers hope the added tax will benefit area schools, but many of us hope that the tax hike may prevent potential smokers from ever starting.

Philadelphia: We’re Number One

It’s a sad statistic: 25 percent of adults in Philadelphia smoke. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is the highest rate in America among large cities. And the statistics also show us that nearly every adult smoker begins as a teen.

The US Surgeon General’s report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults states that every day, more than 3,800 youth between 12 and 17 take a puff of their first cigarette. But if young people can stay tobacco-free until their 18th birthday, chances are extremely good that they’ll never start smoking. Now that’s a statistic we can cheer about!

Kids and Cigarettes: A Terrible Combination

Temple University health economist Andrew Sfekas and his team conducted a study that sheds light on how kids fall into the habit of smoking. He explains that initially, young people are experimenting with cigarettes; they don’t actually say to themselves, “Hey, I’m going to start a long and glorious habit of smoking!” Sfekas states, “They want to try it, and they don’t actually – at the time – appreciate how much it’s going to cost them in the future because they don’t know whether or not they will be light or heavy smokers or continue doing it at all.” Many young smokers only partake on the weekend or when they’re drinking. “That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t affect your finances all that much. When it starts to affect your finances is when it becomes a daily habit.”

So how can we get our kids to not smoke at all? As parents or influential adults, it’s important to communicate with kids frankly and openly. The American Lung Association has some great tips on how to do so. Take a look at the reasons that most kids start the deadly habit, according to the American Lung Association:

  • Their parents are smokers.
  • Peer pressure – their friends encourage them to try cigarettes, and to keep smoking.
  • They see smoking as a way of rebelling and showing independence.
  • They think that everyone else is smoking, and that they should, too.
  • Tobacco advertising targets teenagers.

If you smoke, will the young ones you care about really listen when you tell them to not pick up the habit? Do you have the freeness of speech to tell them to stay away from tobacco? Kids do what we do, not just what we say. So if you smoke, now, more than ever, it’s time to quit.

Free smoking cessation help is available online at cancer.org and at Quitlogix. The American Cancer Society Quit for Life Program is also available seven days a week, 24 hours a day at 800-227-2345. The Pennsylvania Free Quitline is available by dialing 899-QUIT-NOW.

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