Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany (CCA) and Reality Check students at Fillmore Central School are encouraging members of our community to commit or recommit to healthier, tobacco-free lives by participating in the Great American Smokeout on November 16.
This year to celebrate Great American Smokeout, the Fillmore Reality Check group had their peers take selfies then shared them on social media to support raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 in Allegany County. The group also added the stat “90% of adult smokers started smoking by the age of 18” to their post. Most underage tobacco users get their tobacco products from peers in high schools that are 18 and currently legal to purchase tobacco products. By making the legal age to purchase tobacco products 21 it would cut off that ease of access that many youth have in their own high schools. The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc’s school survey shows that over 27% of high school seniors in Allegany County use some form of tobacco product. Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, along with 8 other counties, and New York City have raised the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
“Tobacco use continues to be a public health concern, for smokers and non-smokers alike,” says Jonathan Chaffee, youth coordinator at Tobacco-Free CCA. “Smoking is an addiction and quitting is definitely not easy. The annual Great American Smokeout is a great opportunity for community members who smoke to take that difficult first step to quit by asking for help. Even better, it’s a way we can send a message to our youth to not start smoking.”
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year more than 480,000 people in the U.S. die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means smoking causes 1 out of 5 deaths in the U.S. annually.
Yet, because tobacco is one of the strongest addictions one can have, about 40 million Americans adults still smoke, including 26.8% of adults in Allegany County. The reason: tobacco is addictive, and quitting is a process. It starts with a plan, often takes time and requires a lot of support.
“The most important thing current smokers can do to improve their health is to quit cigarettes and other forms of tobacco,” said Ada Sylvester. “And we want our generation, our classmates and friends, to be the one that says no to cigarettes and other tobacco use.”
About the Great American Smokeout
The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting—even for one day—smokers will take an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.