America Loves Quitters: Preventing Teen Tobacco Use

November 15, 2012

In an election month, young people across America learned a lot about making choices, and today they get the chance to make the choice to not use tobacco.

Today, November 15, 2012, marks the 37th Great American Smokeout, a day promoted by the American Cancer Society every third Thursday of November to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit smoking, or finally quit smoking altogether on that day. Research shows that quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Image: Campaign banner for the Great American Smokeout 2012 by the American Cancer Society. 

Thus it was fortuitous that a copy of the three-volume set entitled “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General came across my desk this week.  Published by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, this combines all the latest research and best thinking about how to combat tobacco use in children and teens. The three volumes in the set include:

1)      The full report from the Surgeon General with the detailed research: “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General”

2)      An “Executive Summary” of the report with the key evidence and conclusions

3)      A booklet of “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco Free”.

This easy-to-read booklet aimed to parents, schools and community public health practitioners contains highlights from the 2012 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco use among youth and teens ages 12 through 17 and young adults ages 18 through 25. The first four pages are an overview of youth and young adult tobacco use, and the sections that follow provide details on health effects, factors that encourage young people to use tobacco, the role of the tobacco industry, and what we can do to solve the problem.

Here’s the Report. General

Reading through the full Surgeon General Report, I found it contains the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1. Introduction, Summary, and Conclusions

 This chapter gives an overview and summary of the report’s findings and conclusions. One startling fact: the high percentage of cigarette smokers starting even in middle school!

  • Chapter 2. The Health Consequences of Tobacco Use Among Young People

Starting tobacco use young—cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco—has significant and sometimes unique health consequences outlined in this chapter.

  • Chapter 3. The Epidemiology of Tobacco Use Among Young People in the United States and Worldwide

In this chapter, the various surveys and methods used for gathering data for this landmark report were discussed.

  • Chapter 3 Appendices

Terrific for researchers, reporters and health professionals, the appendices provide the detailed data and tables that are such an important part of the study. For example one table showed the results of responses to use of multiple types of tobacco products expanding beyond just  cigarettes to increasing use of chewing tobacco, snuff, cigars, cigarillos or little cigars.

  • Chapter 4. Social, Environmental, Cognitive, and Genetic Influences on the Use of Tobacco Among Youth

In this chapter, the researchers explore the factors that influence tobacco use among youth—and why they have such devastating long-term effects.

  • Chapter 5. The Tobacco Industry’s Influences on the Use of Tobacco Among Youth

Twelve years after the Federal Government’s Master Settlement Agreement against the tobacco industry, it is exerting as much influence as ever, with sophisticated marketing efforts aimed at increasing tobacco use. This chapter also outlines the ineffectiveness of the anti-tobacco programs the tobacco industry was required to do as part of the Agreement.

  • Chapter 6. Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use Among Young People

This important chapter reviews the efforts to date to prevent tobacco use and what’s working and not.

Here is an example of the CDC’s current anti-tobacco campaign:

Smoking harms health from the very first puff. Learn more.

  • Chapter 7. A Vision for Ending the Tobacco Epidemic

Finally, it concludes with a vision from the research team on how communities, schools, parents and the public health programs can help end tobacco use.

Teen Tobacco Facts

 Some of the more startling—and disturbing—findings and conclusions:

  • In 2008, tobacco companies spent 48% more on cigarette marketing (totaling $9.94 billion) and 277% more on smokeless tobacco advertising (totaling $547 million) than in 1998, the year of the Federal Government’s Master Settlement Agreement against the tobacco industry.
  • For every person who dies due to smoking—more than 1,200 each day—at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers.
  • Among adults who become daily smokers, nearly all first use of cigarettes occurs by 18 years of age (88%), with 99% of first use by 26 years of age.
  • Almost one in four high school seniors is a current (in the past 30 days) cigarette smoker, compared with one in three young adults and one in five adults.
  • Among those who use tobacco, nearly one-third of high school females and more than one-half of high school males report using more than one tobacco product in the last 30 days.
  • Key influences include peer pressure, genetic predisposition toward addiction; family socioeconomic factors and educational attainment; sophisticated package and advertising design aimed toward kids, and depictions in popular media, particularly movies.
  • Smoking won’t help you lose weight, contrary to young people’s beliefs.
  • Adolescent smoking contributes to earlier onset of health problems, from asthma to cancer to heart and lung disease.

Additional Information

CDC: Finally, for more information and additional resources on preventing tobacco use among young people, go to If you smoke and want to quit smoking, cal l 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).

American Cancer Society: Stay Away from Tobacco resources.

HOW DO I OBTAIN “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General?

  • Buy a print copy online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Find this and other books about Alcoholism, Smoking & Substance Abuse on our new online bookstore.

Another recommended book is How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, A Report of the Surgeon General, which “explains beyond a shadow of a doubt how tobacco smoke causes disease, validates earlier findings, and expands and strengthens the science base. Describes in detail the ways tobacco smoke damages every organ in the body and causes disease and death. Substantiates the evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore ( and promoting Federal government content to the public.

Society through a Comic Lens

February 7, 2012

By Guest Blogger, Marianne Mason, Federal Information Librarian, Research and Library Instruction at The University of Iowa Libraries

Comic books are not really books and often not comic, but are serialized graphics-based stories expressed through political and cultural rhetoric.  Think Maus, a story of the Holocaust.  Think Peanuts’ ethics and theology.

O.K., not all comic books or graphic novels are Pulitzer Prize winners or speak to a deep sense of ethics.  The pure entertainment value of storytelling through sequential art can be worthy on its own merits.  However, the comics can inform, persuade, and encourage new behaviors in readers.  This is the purpose of comic books authored by U.S. government agencies.

Used as social program marketing tools for decades, the government-authored comic book format has been used to promote program benefits (Social Security Administration) and to educate (Consumer Product Safety Commission) using superhero/anti-hero models like Sprocket Man (reviewed in our April 9, 2010, blog post “Just for Fun: Sprocket Man!” ) and El Gato to capture the attention of the targeted audience and cross educational boundaries.

The Army made instruction manuals measurably more appealing to combat personnel in PS Magazine by incorporating sexual innuendo in both dialog and character illustration such as in this Preventive Maintenance manual shown below:

In October 2011 the University of Iowa hosted a scholarly symposium entitled “Comics, Creativity, and Culture: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives”, a by-invitation-only event for scholars, artists and creators of the art and literature of comic books.  The Symposium spawned a semester-long series of complementary university sponsored events ranging from art exhibits, radio broadcasts, discussions, and interactive workshops for educators and K-12 students.  The University of Iowa Libraries contributed to the celebration by creating a Comic Book Café based on the Japanese “Manga Café” model.  Several specialized library collections, including Government Information, pooled their best examples for the café.

As the U.S. Government Information Librarian, I found that this event gave me an opportunity to draw attention to the characteristics and range of government authored comic books.  Creating a government comics research guide  gave me an opportunity to do a thorough survey of the collection,  access the content of the print collection and provide links to digitized collections from the broader government information community, including this latest online booklet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Preparedness 101: A Zombie Pandemic”.

In addition, the research guide provides database access to many Congressional hearings and reports in the UI collection from the 1950’s linking juvenile delinquency to explicit violence in comic books.

Whether quirky or more profound, all reflect changing societal norms that drive public policy initiatives.

On October 4th an “egg timer” book talk called Thought Balloons: Talking about Comics”, was held in the Café for creators and readers of comics to share insights and stories about connections to comic book literature.  One reader commented that when she and her boyfriend merged their comic book collections, she knew their love was here to stay!

Note regarding Images:

Images in order of mention: Sprocket Man, The 9 Lives of El Gato, PS Magazine, Comic Book Café, Zombie Pandemic (“broader gov. community”), Comic books and juvenile delinquency.  Serial Set 11815-1 (S. Rpt. 62, 84 Cong., 1st Session) 1955, Thought Balloons. Source: University of Iowa Libraries.

About our Guest Blogger:

Marianne Mason has worked with Government and legal resources in several law libraries and universities and at University of Iowa Libraries since 2001 as the regional librarian for the State of Iowa.  Her idea of a fine vacation involves clear water, forests, and the absence of machinery/technology noise.  She knows how to knit socks, two-at-a-time, toe up.

More resources about Government-created comics:

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