Help Youth Stay Tobacco and Nicotine Free in the New School Year

Promote smoke-free spaces and connect youth to 1-800-QUIT-NOW

YPSILANTI, Mich., Sept 14, 2016 –Each year 8,100 Michigan kids under age 18 become new, daily smokers, and 213,000 kids alive today in Michigan will eventually die from tobacco-related disease. As students head back to school, Washtenaw County Public Health encourages parents, health care providers, and community members to talk to kids about the ill effects of tobacco use and remind them that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative.

“Connecting young people to resources like 1-800-QUIT-NOW, supporting policy changes that help them avoid using in the first place, and providing education on the negative health toll of tobacco use – can prevent illness and save lives,” says Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, MD, MPH medical director with Washtenaw County Public Health.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, youth are more sensitive to nicotine and can feel dependent earlier than adults. Nearly nine out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18. About three out of four teen smokers end up smoking into adulthood, even if they intend to quit after a few years.

Raising the minimum legal age of access to 21, as the city of Ann Arbor did on August 4, 2016, will likely delay initiation and reduce tobacco use across all ages and have the biggest impact on adolescents 15 to 17 years.

Smoking and Young People

According to the 2015-2016 Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth, 4% of Washtenaw County high school students report smoking cigarettes during the past 30 days, and 11% used electronic vapor products in the past 30 days.

The average age of first use among Michigan students that report smoking is 13 years, and more than half (52%) report that they have tried to quit in the past 12 months (YRBS 2015-16).

“Although we have made significant progress in protecting our youth from tobacco-related health problems, we still have a ways to go,” says Amanda Ng, health educator with Washtenaw County Public Health. “Too many kids are still using tobacco and are still being exposed to secondhand smoke. It is essential that we address e-cigarette use among young people, and do everything we can to prevent youth from starting to use cigarettes or e-cigarettes.”

For those young people who have already begun to use tobacco and want to quit, the Michigan Tobacco Quitline provides services for 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 or e-cigarettes. In addition, the Quitline offers a free text messaging program and a self-guided online quit program. Support is available 24/7 and in multiple languages.

The Smokefree Teen website available at and also provides quit tools.

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