° empty

No smoking push worth time for youth

Each year, 3,100 Mississippi children under the age of 18 become new, daily smokers.

Those startling numbers supplied by the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition are part of an interactive push, titled “Secret Smoker,” initiated this week by the coalition and the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Department of Health officials said research shows teens listen to other teens concerning social issues thereby suggesting anti-smoking feedback by peers could play a huge role in reducing youth tobacco use.

The Secret Smoker campaign launches web episodes for the next five weeks on social media sites and thesecretsmoker.com. Viewers vote on who they think the secret smoker is after each episode, answer trivia questions about the episodes, engage in character profiles and interact through Facebook and Twitter to determine which character is the secret smoker.

Paige Dickey, project director of the Coalition’s Adams, Jefferson and Franklin counties district, hopes Wednesday’s launch, dubbed Kick Butts Day, leads to an everyday effort to fight against youth tobacco use.

No cliffhanger exists concerning the results of long-term smoking. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people every year, according to the Coalition.

The Coalition predicts 68,000 Mississippians now under 18 years of age will ultimately die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses.

If we can stop even one of those residents from dying because of smoking, the effort will have been worth all our time.