Tobacco Use Prevention
Tobacco is the drug most commonly used by children and adolescents in the United States. Its use correlates with many of the other risk behaviors of adolescence. In fact, tobacco is the gateway drug to other drugs of abuse such as marijuana and alcohol. Because adolescent risk behaviors are so intertwined, it is important to address the prevention of tobacco use within the context of other risk behaviors.
Preventing tobacco use among youth has emerged as a major focus of tobacco control efforts, because tobacco use and subsequent addiction take root in adolescence. Among adults in the United States who have ever smoked daily, nearly 90 percent tried their first cigarette before age 18 years, and 53 percent became daily smokers before age 18.
Tobacco use is one of Colorado's most serious public health problems. Responsible for more than 4,200 deaths annually, it is the leading cause of preventable death in our state. In fact, more people die from smoking each year than AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, homicide, suicide, car accidents and fires combined. In addition, for each tobacco-related death, another 20 adults suffer from a tobacco-related illness.
Tobacco use also is responsible for enormous economic burdens in our state. With approximately 130,000 smokers developing smoking-related illnesses each year, annual healthcare costs in Colorado directly related to tobacco use exceed $1 billion ($259 per capita).