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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

November is Tobacco Awareness Month

What is Tobacco Awareness Month?

November is Tobacco Awareness Month.  During the month of November communities can work towards preventing tobacco use through events and education aimed at helping young teens to say no to tobacco. It’s important to engage youth about tobacco prevention because, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2013), tobacco companies target youth with tobacco advertising so they can replace the 3,000 people each day who have quit or lost their lives to smoking. This results in 90% of new smokers being under the age of 18.

How is tobacco used?

While we tend to think of cigarette smoking when we think about tobacco, there are actually many different ways tobacco can be used. Tobacco can be chewed, inhaled, or smoked. In 2012, about 5.5% of adults in the U.S. regularly used tobacco in a form other than a cigarette, and nearly 2% used e-cigarettes (which don’t contain tobacco but often contain nicotine.)

Source: http://www.who.int/tobacco/en/atas4.pdf

It is important that we educate our communities on dangers of tobacco use, and on ways of making positive change. Tobacco harms not only the users themselves, but those around them. For example, each year 88 million nonsmokers in the U.S. are exposed to secondhand smoke, with children being the most exposed (CDC, 2010). Secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke can cause many illnesses and health problems, including  heart disease and lung cancer in adults; acute respiratory infections, and decreased lung function in children (CDC, 2010). A 2012 Surgeon General’s Report provides an outline of activities and prevention strategies people can take to work towards the mission to a smoke free community.

What steps do we take?

The 2012 Surgeon General’s report highlights three broad categories of risk factors that can lead young people to use tobacco: social, physical and environmental.  Understanding these risk factors can help communities develop effective preventive measures.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if young people see smoking as a social norm, they are more inclined to begin smoking (2012). For example, if friends or family are smoking regularly, an adolescent is more likely to try smoking. Young adults are especially susceptible to social pressures because they highly value relationships with others and want to fit in.

Physical factors include the sensitivity young adults have to nicotine.  This sensitivity means that young people are much more likely to become addicted to nicotine after very brief use.  Blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates increase immediately after nicotine enters the bloodstream (NIH, 2014).

The third group of risk factors that influence teen smoking are environmental factors. If young people are continually exposed to advertisements or images that portray tobacco use as normal and attractive, they are more likely to use tobacco (CDC, 2012). Communities with smoke-free zones around schools and other public places have lower rates of tobacco use among youth (CDC, 2012).

Here are some suggestions, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2013) on what your community can do during Tobacco Awareness Month.

  • Have students report on the harmful effects of smoking for the school news.
  • Join with a local radio or TV station to sponsor a Public Service Announcement contest. The winner of the PSA contest gets their announcement broadcasted.
  • Have high school students organize and produce a play for elementary students.
  • Ask the student government to encourage smoke-free learning environments.
  • Develop a prevention club in your community.

You can access other ways to act on tobacco prevention in your community by visiting: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dsamh/files/csap_fellow_prevention_promo_guide.pdf

Available through the IPRC online library are hundreds of educational articles and videos on tobacco-related topics.

The Indiana Prevention Resource Center also assists in preventing tobacco use among teens by supporting the state government tobacco retailer inspection program (TRIP) through identifying patterns of behavior in retail compliance with tobacco control laws and researching effective prevention strategies for Indiana youth.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.trip.indiana.edu


  • "A Report of the Surgeon General Preventing Tobacco Use and Youth and Young Adults." Cdc.gov. CDC; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Office on Smoking and Health, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2012/consumer_booklet/pdfs/consumer.pdf.
  • "DrugFacts: Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products." Drugabuse.gov. National Institute on Drug Abuse the Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction, 2014. Web. Oct. 2014. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products.
  • "Month By Month Prevention and Promotion and Call to Action and Planning Guide." Www.dhss.delaware.gov. SAMHSA.gov, 2010. Web. Oct. 2014. http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dsamh/files/csap_fellow_prevention_promo_guide.pdf.
  • "Smoking & Tobacco Use." CDC Fact Sheet- Fast Facts. CDC; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Office on Smoking and Health, Apr. 2014. Web. Oct. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm#toll.
  • "Vital Signs: Nonsmokers' Exposure to Secondhand Smoke --- United States, 1999--2008." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) (2010): 1141-146. CDC. Web.


By Chelsea Jarvis, 10/23/2014