In modern society, problems that are associated with smoking have become particularly acute. It has received popularity especially among young people. Harmful habits have a negative impact both on society as a whole and on the life and work of every individual. At the moment, the problem has become global. In the world, there are people and institutions with a heightened sense of responsibility for their own health and the health of offspring. Taking into account various events (or even applications) on a healthy lifestyle that are held in some countries by the state and public institutions, more attempts to fight the smoking epidemic become known.
Despite various restrictions on tobacco use in the United States, there is a growth of the number of smoking people. Such increase can be explained by the influence of particular macroeconomics factors, such as advertisement, parents’ and friends’ impact. Therefore, there is a need of implementing effective laws and measures that will be aimed at reducing tobacco epidemic in the country. Limitations on smoking in public places, a ban on advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products, increase in excise duties on tobacco should be provided in order to fight smoking habits. In order to protect present and future generations of devastating influence on human health, as well as reducing social, environmental and economic costs of tobacco use, a number of economic and administrative measures should be taken in the United States. To implement a series of measures that can prove their efficiency, the state is required not only financial costs but also political will. The effectiveness of new measures will largely depend on careful planning and a preliminary assessment of their impact on the whole society (smokers and nonsmokers), employers, producers and sellers of tobacco products, regulatory agencies, etc.
Teenage Smoking Problem
Is teenage smoking a problem that we need to be concerned about? Are the laws that prohibit them from smoking effective? Or do we need to implement new strategies to eradicate the issue? Teenage smoking is a huge problem that needs to be considered as a public health issue. The danger of smoking is proved and confirmed by numerous studies, but it is especially harmful for a young growing organism. The effects of nicotine on a child’s body are irreparable. Usually, severe consequences in the form of getting chronic diseases and even disability do not stop teenagers. Despite the fact that all laws that are prescribing the age, at which it is permitted the purchase of tobacco products, are widely publicized and well-known, anyone can receive access to cigarettes in practice. There are restrictions on teenage buying and using tobacco products, which are based on the law that was passed in the state of Kansas that
restricts anyone under the age of 18 from possessing any tobacco product: Kansas Statutes Annotated 79-3321 states that it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, possess or attempt to purchase or possess any tobacco product. Anyone found guilty is guilty of a tobacco infraction, fined $25 and can be required by a judge to appear before the court with a parent or legal guardian (Thorne).
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Teenagers, who smoke, may at one point realize that smoking might cause severe health issues. If they start coughing, they will switch to smokeless tobacco or electronic cigarettes, which they think will help them quit. Agadu provided a study that showed that 5.6 percent of students used smokeless tobacco to either help them quit tobacco products or just because they saw their peers using them. The authors also say that 72.1 percent of students who use smokeless tobacco, smoke cigarettes, as well. It is an indication that that the contemporary laws and regulations are being manipulated and not followed and need to be adjusted. However, a new mean of smoking has been introduced recently to the youth. The research that was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that more than a quarter million young people who had never smoked in their life started using electronic cigarettes in 2013. Such number is increasing, which is another indicator of the fact that the laws are not working efficiently.
There are many teenagers who start smoking before the age of 18, which is the age limit for banning tobacco purchase and use. Based on the statistics shown in CDC website of how many new tobacco users before the age of 18 start smoking their first cigarette every day, it can be stated that new strategies are needed to be implemented in order to decrease the number of teenage smokers.
A number of researches have been conducted in order to evaluate the level of smokers in the United States, as well as the effectiveness of anti-smoking policies. Thus, Berman and Snyder addressed the cause and effects of tobacco use. They paid the greatest attention to the problem of tobacco marketing and its influence on the use of tobacco among the youth. The authors provided statistics and facts that have proved that tobacco use among young people gained features of epidemic in the United States. According to them, “one in four high school seniors is a current smoker”.
Aqaku provided a study to assess the use of novel smokeless and conventional tobacco products among American students. The prevalence of the consumption of smokeless cigarettes reached 5,6%.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “most of the 45 million smokers in the United States started smoking as adolescents”. Thorne argued that the reason of teen’s smoking was the absence of the federal restriction on minimum smoking age. Every state has particular laws, which prohibit buying, possessing and using tobacco among the youth. States prohibit cigarettes’ sale to adolescents under 18 years.
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Flay studied the effects of school prevention programs that were aimed at reducing smoking among students. He concluded that using social influence model, as well as interactive methods, including commitment and intensions not to consume, practice and training in refusal of using and other behavioral skills and providing peer leaders with a particular role could be effective in reducing smoking onset. Moreover, Lewis provided evidences that teenagers, who were living with two educated parents, were less likely to smoke. For instance, the author stated that 58% of adolescents, who lived with a single father, were at higher risk than their peers, who lived with two parents. It was concluded that parental education and family structure had a great impact on adolescents’ smoking behavior.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (n.d.) provided statistics and data on tobacco use among the youth. Thus, most smoker start smoking before they are 18. Each day 3,200 young people begin to smoke. 5.6 million of young smokers are projected to die prematurely due to smoking-related diseases. Between 2000 and 2011, there was a decline in the use of cigarettes. However, electronic cigarette consumption has doubled since 2011. Such data indicates the sharp need to implement new measures that will address the issue of teenagers’ smoking.
Government intervention in the economy in order to reduce the social costs should be carried out in such a way that the benefits from the decline exceed the costs of the taken actions. Such approach, which is called a comparison of costs and benefits, determines not only the overall extent of government intervention but also the choice of tactical goals. Consequently, there is a necessity to systematize the extensive experience of implementation various public policies in the field of smoking restrictions.
Collins stated that options have to reflect an ethnic specificity and nation’s experience. Moreover, they should be justified and developed on the basis of international experience. A ban on tobacco smoking that is aimed at fighting passive smoking, help in overcoming tobacco dependence, enforcing bans on advertising of cigarettes, reducing the affordability of tobacco products. At the same time, anti-tobacco media campaigns are the most effective ways to reduce smoking dependence among the youth.
Anti-tobacco media campaigns will be effective if ban is applied to all categories of marketing and sales promotion. However, a total ban will inevitably affect the firms that place advertising and carry out activities, namely the tobacco companies. They include not only the media, but also sports, entertainment companies and sometimes cultural organizations.
The assistance in overcoming smoking dependence includes various government policies, such as information (consulting) and medications. Consulting measures are intended to enable a rational choice to make information about the dangers of smoking available. Information measures include medical consultations (mainly in the healthcare system), “hot lines” that allow anyone to receive a confidential advice, etc.
Raising taxes is considered to be one of the most effective tools in the struggle against smoking. However, such measure faces the most resistant of population, both smokers and non-smokers. Raising taxes is almost always unpopular. However, if the distribution of additional funds goes to the socially significant objectives and procedures of their spending are transparent and accountable, it will be possible to achieve substantial growth in the number of supporters of the measure.
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Policy Proposal(s) and Recommendation(s)
Passive smoking causes a variety of diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer, etc. There is no fixed level of safety under the influence of passive smoking. Therefore, reducing the risks that are associated with passive smoking is the most important task of the anti-smoking policy. One of the most effective arrangements to address the problem is the establishment of smoke-free zones. The effective measures to protect from tobacco smoke should include total elimination of smoking in public places. It means that all public areas (including offices, bars and restaurants) should be completely free of smoke. Only a total prohibition on smoking in public places is able to effectively protect people (both non-smokers and smokers) from exposure to tobacco smoke. Other measures, such as the allocation of separate rooms for smoking and installation of the ventilation, are costly and inefficient.
However, there are many opponents of such restriction who present the particular arguments. Firstly, such measure could not be supported by the population. The threat of lack of support from the population is often a deterrent to deciding on a total prohibition on smoking in public places. It seems for decision-makers that such measure will be unpopular among the population. Therefore, there are decisions on limiting smoking, not a total ban.
Moreover, hotel business, bars and restaurants could suffer from such decision. Restaurant and hotel business are often afraid of the introduction of full smoking bans and may put pressure on decision-makers. Another argument against ban on smoking deals with the high costs that are associated with the ban policy. Like any administrative measure, a ban on smoking in public places is impossible without certain costs. The main costs are associated with monitoring the implementation of legislation. Another type of costs is associated with the need to conduct an awareness campaign to explain the importance of the ban and prove the absence of damage to the business. Despite such awareness, the greatest part of public expenditure falls on the first years of the ban, while they decrease with time. Over time, the support of the population and business will grow and the costs that are associated with the use of the new provisions of the law will be reduced. Thus, being highly effective, such measure requires significant efforts in the initial stage from the regulatory authorities.
Macro Economic Factors
A major impulse for the development of the American tobacco industry was the Second World War: the soldiers were given free cigarettes. Moreover, women, who started working for the first time due to labor shortages, began smoking. Despite the presence of many laws and regulations that are aimed at teenage smoking in the modern society, there are other factors that play a major role in encouraging teenagers to smoke. Such factors are very difficult to control unless there are some laws that could be generated and implemented to eliminate their effects. For instance, one of such factors is the advertisement of the tobacco industries that are aiming at hitting the youth population. Based on the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, tobacco industries will be spending more than seventy-three million dollars in promoting cigarettes in Maine in current year (Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Maine, n.d.).
Another research that has been done by Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy states that tobacco companies spent 9.94 billion dollars on the marketing strategies that attracted youth to tobacco products (Berman & Snyder). Marketing of tobacco products has a strong influence on their consumption, especially for habit forming among young people. Thanks to advertising of tobacco products, a tolerant attitude to smoking is formed in the society. As a result, the positive effect of the effort on tobacco control is weakening. The main reason that encourages children to smoke is a misconception that bad habit will add them courage and maturity. Certainly, it is difficult to resist and not to try smoking the cigarettes. Bright, colorful and attracting tobacco advertising simply overshadows the inscription that modestly warns of the dangers of smoking.
However, such advertisings are not the only reasons why young people smoke. Parents and siblings, who smoke, have a big impact on their children and/or younger siblings’ destiny on whether they grow up to become smokers or not. Vuolo provided a study that showed that children or siblings of heavy smokers were more likely to become tobacco users. For children, even temporary stay among smokers poses a risk. Growing up, the child becomes a teenager and his/her unhealthy interest in tobacco products increases, as well. Young people believe that smoking helps cope with boredom and frustration. It provides a pleasure and a way of entertainment and is intended to relieve stress. Moreover, teenagers consider smoking as a sign of the transition to a more mature, adult status. It allows entering a group of peers, as well. If someone takes a cigarette and does not abandon it, it will indicate a mutually acceptable behavior. Momentarily and occasional smoking is a cause of a real unnoticed habit of nicotine. Teenagers do not care about the health and cannot estimate all gravity of the consequences of smoking as they tend not to think about a period of time in 10-15 years. They believe that it is possible to abandon smoking at any time.
In the United States, the struggle for a healthy lifestyle is held in all states. In addition, various restrictions on smoking are imposed in every state. For instance, smoking in public spaces and service cars is banned in the state of New York. Penalty for violation reaches one thousand dollars. In Illinois, smoking is permitted only in private homes and apartments, in private cars and in some hotels, where smokers have special numbers.
The United States food and drugs administration says that, Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 kids under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 700 kids become daily cigarette smokers. Many of these kids will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks and will ultimately die too young of tobacco-related diseases (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).
Therefore, it is important to understand that teenage smoking is a really big issue that should be taken under immediate consideration in order to protect the children from becoming tobacco dependent and from illnesses that are associated with the tobacco use. Nevertheless, the statistics show that the laws, which have been already provided, are not effective enough to prevent teenagers from smoking, since more teenagers are beginning to smoke. For instance, the law that Kansas State has on the possession of tobacco product, in which the violator is only required to pay 25 dollars and attend a court session with a parent or a guardian, is not an effective way to prevent teens from tobacco product use. The reason for it is that the amount of money that they have to pay is very small and would probably never make them quit smoking (Thorne). Although their parents will know of it, they would not necessarily have an impact on their children, especially when they are away from them.
Smoking is harmful not only to the young smoker but also to the whole society. Thus, smoking is not just a problem of the individual. To reduce smoking, many different measures can be used. They include strict limit smoking areas, penalties, laws for complaints from non-smokers and public health facilities that specialize in the treatment of such type of problem, etc. Speaking of assistance to non-smokers, it is possible to offer free treatment and sanatorium rest.
Although there are many regulation and laws against teenage smoking and new regulations have been added throughout the past years, teenagers will always find a possibility to break the law and not follow the regulations. Based on the facts that were mentioned above, it can be realized that such laws and policies are not working to the extent the government hoped. Consequently, there is a need to modify them to protect the well-being of the children.
It is recommended that before taking any restricted laws against teenage smoking, it is necessary to understand why teenagers are smoking. Normally, they state they right to choose whether they want to smoke or not. Education is a big factor in reducing the rate of teens’ smoking: more educated individuals are less likely to smoke. Children, who live with two educated parents, are less likely to smoke, as well (Lewis). It can also be useful to implement school-based programs for tobacco prevention, which is shown to be very effective among the youth (Flay). Lastly, the governments should develop new regulations in regards to the advertisements of tobacco products, which make them appealing to the youth.
Therefore, the fight against smoking at the state level has a great importance in solving the problem. It is necessary to revise the rules of sale of tobacco products and increase penalties for non-compliance. It is necessary to impose strict requirements on the activities of manufacturers of tobacco products, ban advertising and promotion of smoking, increase the rate of excise duty. The creation of smoke-free zones in public areas is the most effective measure in reducing tobacco dependence, which is, at the same time, difficult to implement. First years after the admission of the law, when the ratio of the population to the new rules of behavior in public places is formed, is crucial for the success of the measure. In general, particular measures on tobacco control work effectively in a complex, complementing and reinforcing each other. Such measures will help if not eliminate teenage smoking, then, at least, reduce the amount of smoking children and adolescents.