Discounted tobacco negatively affects our youth
Chugachmiut and SeaView Community Services would like to draw attention to tobacco use and its effect upon our community and its children.
Data shows that tobacco use has significant negative effects on children and young adults. According to the State of Alaska approximately 9,560 children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes each year leading to many health concerns such as missed school days due to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ear infections and increased risk to sudden infant death syndrome.
The Share the Air coalition is a Seward community organization that works to share information about the dangers of secondhand smoke, the benefits of creating smokefree organizations, and to close the gap of tobacco health and prevention awareness. SeaView Community Services and Chugachmiut are also working hard to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, prevent tobacco use among our youth, promote quitting among adults and youth, and eliminate the tobacco-related disparities in Seward and surrounding region.
In 2011, 14 percent of Alaska high school students smoked, with Alaska Native youth nearly twice as likely to be current smokers, than non-Native youth, at a rate of 26 percent. In addition to tobacco use by family members and friends influencing their tobacco use, children and young adults are especially susceptible to discount tobacco prices, and low state and local tobacco taxes, both of which increase the rate of underage smoking. Discounted tobacco products negatively impact communities, by making tobacco a more affordable option for youth. On average, discounted prices on tobacco products result in a 6.2 percent increase in youth smokers, according to Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
“Communities influence children and shape the adults they become,” says Jill Simpson, Director of Prevention and Disability Services at SeaView Community Services, “We know that smoke-free/tobacco free policies, along with increasing tobacco prices, are effective strategies to help prevent youth from smoking.”
Chugachmiut and SeaView Community Services would also like to recognize the large steps forward the Seward community has made in tobacco-free health and prevention awareness by congratulating The Seward Alehouse, Tony’s Bar and Breeze Inn for recently becoming smokefree establishments, along with other local businesses who have previously gone smokefree — it is changes like these that make a big difference in our community.