A recent report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration ( SAMSHA ) says most of the retailers in the U.S. are no longer selling as much cigarettes to minors as they have in the past.
According to the report, the overall national retailer violation rate has dropped to 12.8% for this year, which is down from 14.1% reported last year and 40.1% reported back in 1996.
'The truth is that youth smoked over 12.2 million packs of cigarettes last year. It's sad, but the truth is that nearly a fourth of all teenagers continue to smoke cigarettes everyday. It's a huge issue,' said John Revolinski of the National Tobacco Free Coalition—Midwest chapter.
The current law requires states and U.S. territories to enact and enforce youth tobacco access laws, conduct annual random unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets, achieve negotiated annual retailer violation targets and attain a final goal of 20% or below for retailer non-compliance.
'It's very important that we understand, cancer is just one of the many different things that tobacco use will lead to besides heart disease, lung disease and other blood disorders that are linked to the use of tobacco,' said Ted Wolfe director of the cancer center at Ottumwa Regional Health Center, which serves southeast Iowa and Northern Missouri.
The SAMSHA report found that 48 out of the 50 states achieved the legislative goal of retailer sales of cigarettes to minors. Meanwhile, only 38 states were said to achieve a retailer violation rate of no more than 15%. The national findings were
based on reports submitted by states in response to federal law established in 1992 restricting access to tobacco by youth under the age of 18.
'If we can keep people from picking up the habit by the time they are 18 then I believe they will be less likely to become hooked and ultimately die of the complications from tobacco. So, keeping it away from teens is very important,' said Revolinski.
Among the many youth coping with the smoking habit are Latinos who help make up the 87% of lung cancer deaths associated with smoking in the U.S.
In a 2002 national survey on drug use and health, nearly 36% of Puerto Ricans aged 12 or older reported cigarette use in the past year while the percent of Mexicans was significantly lower at approximately 28%.
The National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention ( LCAT ) , who helps prevent or eliminate tobacco use in the Latino community, says they carry out their mission by their intensive research, programs and policy analysis.
'Quitting takes a lot of courage, hard work and support. There are many health groups out there providing smoking cessation groups. People interested in taking that first step toward quitting should talk to their health provider,' said Wolfe.