A few months ago my husband and I celebrated a 6-year anniversary. Not of our marriage, but of something equally important to our relationship. This year marked his 6-year smoke-free anniversary.
hero_image_alt_text===Man holding toddler boy
thumbnail_alt_text===Man holding toddler boy
Every year I try make sure he knows how proud of him I am and how much I appreciated the decision he made 6 years.
My husband, like far too many young people, became addicted to smoking when he was very young. He had his first cigarette when he was 15 years old, and by the time he was 25 was smoking 2 packs a day. And he is not alone - 95% of smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. As anyone who has ever quit themselves or supported someone they love in quitting knows, it is hard to stop smoking once you become addicted to cigarettes.
1,800 Oregon teens become new daily smokers every year, and there are 68,000 Oregon kids alive today who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Raising the sale age for tobacco products alters the peer group of high school students who access tobacco products through older students, resulting in a 25% projected drop in number of 15-17 year olds who start smoking.
I can’t turn back the clock to when my husband was 15 and picked up that first cigarette, but hopefully I can prevent my young son from following in his footsteps. Together, we can create the first generation of tobacco free Oregonians, by keeping tobacco out of the hands of kids and preventing nicotine addiction. Now is the time to raise the age of sale for tobacco products, including inhalant delivery systems, to 21 years.