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Resolution directs ADA to support tobacco-free school policies

Honolulu—The ADA House of Delegates supported a measure that "recognizes that a tobacco-free school environment is the cornerstone of a comprehensive policy intended to prevent and reduce tobacco addiction in young people."

Resolution 13H-2009 also calls for the ADA to "support adoption of tobacco-free school laws or policies that incorporate the guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for school based health programs to prevent tobacco use and addition;" to provide a link on ADA.org to assist those at the state and local level who are interested in pursuing tobacco-free school environments; and to urge ADA members and dental societies to collaborate with students, parents, school officials and members of the community to establish tobacco-free schools.

A report to the House from the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations discussing tobacco and youth said that if current smoking patterns in the U.S. persist, about 5 million people younger than 18 years old today will die prematurely of tobacco-related diseases.

Other startling facts from the report about tobacco use in young people include:

  • about 80 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18;
  • children and teens constitute the majority of all new smokers—some 4,000 12- to 17-year-olds start cigarette smoking each day and 1,140 become daily cigarette smokers;
  • a third of high school students who try smoking eventually become daily smokers;
  • secondhand smoke exposure during childhood and adolescence may contribute to new cases of asthma or worsen existing asthma—the leading health-related cause of school absences.

"Most people do not use tobacco products and do not want to breathe secondhand smoke," said Dr. Mark A. Crabtree, CAPIR chair. "Tobacco-free school policies prepare young people to experience—and, in fact, demand—smoke-free workplaces and communities."

CAPIR is charged with exploring a number of opportunities and venues, including the Internet, to promote resources regarding tobacco-free schools that may be of value to members and potential collaborators.

A summary of ADA tobacco policies can be found on ADA.org.