Amidst Youth E-cigarette Epidemic, Cancer-Fighting Advocates Mark Great American Smokeout by Calling for Action to Prevent Tobacco Addiction
ACS CAN calls for prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes
TRENTON, NJ – Cancer patients and survivors marked the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 44th annual Great American Smokeout today by calling on New Jersey law makers to protect the health of New Jersey residents by passing strong tobacco control legislation. Only by tackling tobacco use through a comprehensive approach can we effectively overcome the country’s tobacco use epidemic and prevent the more than 480,000 deaths each year caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
The advocacy affiliate of ACS, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), supports evidence-based strategies proven to reduce tobacco use including comprehensive smoke-free laws, regular and significant tobacco excise tax increases and adequately funding evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
This effort to combat tobacco addiction comes at a critical moment, as Big Tobacco has now succeeded in hooking a new generation on tobacco products. E-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels among youth, with more than one in four high school students (27.5%) currently using e-cigarettes. ACS CAN is working with the Flavors Hook Kids NJ coalition to advocate for state legislation to restrict all flavored tobacco products to protect our kids from a lifetime of addiction.
“The kids in our community are part of the latest generation to fall victim to Big Tobacco and become addicted to its dangerous products,” said Sam DeAlmeida, ACS CAN New Jersey government relations director. “The Great American Smokeout is about helping people quit, and today we recognize that we can make a difference in this fight against tobacco addiction. That’s why we’re urging the New Jersey Legislature to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes to help prevent our kids from ever starting to use tobacco products.”
According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s report, while smoking has declined over the last 50 years since the first report linking smoking to devastating diseases like cancer, cigarettes have since become more deadly and the risk of disease and death caused by smoking has not declined. In fact, smoking is now linked to at least 15 types of cancers, including liver and colorectal cancers, and people who smoke today have a higher risk of lung cancer than people who smoked 50 years ago.
“The youth e-cigarette use epidemic should serve as a stark reminder that we have a long way to go when it comes to combatting Big Tobacco’s influence and protecting our communities from tobacco’s toll,” said DeAlmeida. “In New Jersey, 9.6% of high school students use e-cigarettes. 143,000 kids now under the age of 18 and alive in New Jersey, will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. We need to act now.”
The use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing $289 billion in health care costs and lost productivity annually. In New Jersey, tobacco is responsible for 11,800 deaths each year.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.