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Protect Our Youth

Getting Youth Hooked on Tobacco

The tobacco industry is always looking for ways to get youth hooked on tobacco. They are considered easy targets and it’s working in Colorado. Six out of 10 high school students in Colorado who attempt to buy cigarettes are successful, leading to 4,900 becoming regular smokers each year before they are even 18 years old. It’s projected that 90,600 Colorado youth currently aged 17 and younger will die from smoking. 

The nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive, making it easy to go from using tobacco occasionally to using it all the time.

Marketing Strategies Used by the Tobacco Industry

The cigarette industry spends more than $10 billion in marketing each year, and the smokeless tobacco industry spends an additional $547 million.

Here are ways the tobacco industry appeals to youth: 
  • Placing tobacco products at checkout counters at convenience stores to trigger impulse buys.
  • Flavoring tobacco products to make them taste good. 
  • Placement of coupons, games and videos on social networking sites visited by young people.

Talking to Teens about Tobacco Use

Believe it or not, adults, especially parents, continue to be the strongest influence in a teen’s life. Talk with teens about the pressures they face to use tobacco. These conversations can make a difference.

  • Set a clear example by not using tobacco.
  • Don’t allow tobacco use in the home and car.
  • Tell teens about common smoking and weight loss myths. 
  • Let teens know tobacco use immediately hurts their health and image. 
  • Encourage schools to strictly enforce tobacco-free policies.
  • Visit, a site specifically for middle school students to learn about the dangers of tobacco. 
  • You can also encourage your child’s school to provide proven tobacco-free programs for teens, such as the Not On Tobacco program, which helped 43 percent of youth participants to quit smoking by the end of the program. 

CDC: Best Practices for Tobacco Control Programs, 2007.
2009 Burden Report