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Monday, April 02, 2012

2012 Surgeon General's Report-Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults

The National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) once again was honored to meet with leadership of the U.S. Public Health Service that included RADM Kerry Nesseler (Chief Nurse Officer USPHS); RADM Chris Halliday (Chief of Staff to the Surgeon General ); Dr. Lesley Russell (Senior Public Health Advisor for Outreach and Policy); Dr. Mary Beth Bigley (Acting Director, Office of Science and Communications); and Lt. Christine Colllins (Special Assistant to the Surgeon General). During our meeting, the NNNO provided an update regarding HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011 .

Our discussions recognized the potential for nurses to be catalysts for prevention campaigns in their local communities. Tobacco cessation is an example of a topic that nurses, using available materials, can greatly influence.

After our presentation, we received copies of the recently published 2012 Surgeon General's Report-Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults.

We were generously provided with a hard copy of the full report, as well as the consumer booklet that summarizes the latest findings about the epidemic of tobacco use among youth and young adults, the causes, and the solutions.

Additionally, here are some highlights from the fact sheet:

Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes. Rates of decline for cigarette smoking have slowed in the last decade and rates of decline for smokeless tobacco use have stalled completely.

Every day, more than 1,200 people in this country die due to smoking. For each of those deaths, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers each day.

Almost 90% of those replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette by age 18.

There could be 3 million fewer young smokers today if success in reducing youth tobacco use that was made between 1997 and 2003 had been sustained.

Prevention efforts must focus on young adults ages 18 through 25, too. Almost no one starts smoking after age 25. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99% started by age 26. Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26.

Tobacco use by youth and young adults causes both immediate and long-term damage. One of the most serious health effects is nicotine addiction, which prolongs tobacco use and can lead to severe health consequences. The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they will be addicted.

Prevention is critical. Successful multi-component programs prevent young people from starting to use tobacco in the first place. These programs more than pay for themselves in lives and health care dollars saved.

Strategies that comprise successful comprehensive tobacco control programs include mass media campaigns, higher tobacco prices, smoke-free laws and policies, evidence-based school programs, and sustained community-wide efforts.

USPHS leaders may not take a position on any pending legislation. However, after leaving this important meeting, the NNNO Board carefully reviewed the Surgeon General's Report and proposed solutions. It is evident that having Congress declare the USPHS Chief Nurse Officer as the National Nurse for Public Health, to make this prominent position more visible, would be beneficial to engage and inspire every nurse to be an active partner in preventing tobacco use among our youth. We urge those who agree to please take a few minutes today to contact your US Representative and urge them to co sponsor HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011 .

Also of notable mention: This report is an exemplary example of the theme for this year's Public Health Week, A Healthier America Begins Today. The week long activities commence today!

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Monday, April 02, 2012  

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