WASHINGTON, April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "While Hispanic adults have always had smoking rates below the national average, new data released today show that Hispanic middle school students are more likely than their peers to use tobacco. It's a tobacco tipping point. Unless Hispanic youth smoking rates are reversed it will result in a generation of tobacco related disease and early death," said Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance), the nation's leading Hispanic health advocacy group.
According to data published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 4.7 million middle and high school students were current users (at least once in past 30 days) of a tobacco product in 2015. Among middle school students, Hispanics were the group most likely to be current tobacco users (10.6%) compared to non-Hispanic white (6.3%) and non-Hispanic black (6.6%) students and more likely than their peers to be using two or more tobacco products.
The data also showed that e-cigarettes are now the most common tobacco products used among youth and use escalated from 1.5 to 16.0 percent between 2011 and 2015 among high school students. "No form of youth tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug and use during adolescence may cause lasting harm to brain development," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a statement.
"We know that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21 years of age. If smoking continues at the current rate, 5.6 million of those currently younger than 18 will die early deaths from a smoking-related illness. That's why policies like raising the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products are so important. We have to take more action now to protect the health of our children," emphasized Dr. Delgado. To date 136 cities, with Chicago being the most recent, and the state of Hawaii have made 21 the minimum age to buy tobacco products.
Dr. Delgado concluded, "If you need support talking to your children about not smoking or you or a loved one needs help quitting, we are here to help. Call our toll-free Su Familia Helpline at 1-866-783-2645. Together we can build a healthier and smoke-free America."
About the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (The Alliance) -- The Alliance is the nation's foremost science-based source of information and trusted advocate for the health of Hispanics in the United States with a mission to achieve the best health outcomes for all. For more information visit us www.hispanichealth.org.
Nuestras Voces (Our Voices)-- Nuestras Voces is a national network of over 100 organizations working for a tobacco-free world and to eliminate disparities in cancer prevention and treatment services. You can be part of this effort being led by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health! Join us at www.nuestrasvoces.org/join.
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SOURCE National Alliance for Hispanic Health