Parent Alert | January 2021 – Tobacco Control What Works?

Rural Communities and Tobacco
Tobacco Nation: Ohio's High Usage Rates

Twelve states belong to what researchers call Tobacco Nation, because tobacco use is higher in these states than in other parts of the country. Spoiler alert: Ohio is one of these twelve states.

In fact, 22% of the residents in Tobacco Nation reported smoking tobacco in 2015, but in other states it was only 15%. Additionally, people in Tobacco Nation averaged 67 packs of cigarettes per year as opposed to 41 elsewhere. Finally, rural populations used more smokeless tobacco than urban ones, making our youth more susceptible to tobacco use and abuse.

This chart is provided by CADCA.
An Important Cultural Awareness Note 
National Network of Public Health Institutes
"Some American Indians use sacred traditional tobacco for ceremonial and religious purposes. Experts within the American Indian community recommend an approach to commercial tobacco control that expresses value for the use of sacred traditional tobacco in clearly defined ceremonial contexts, while emphasizing the importance of protecting community members from health harms related to commercial tobacco use."
More recently and closer to home, Wayne County students answered an anonymous survey in 2019. The good news: When asked about lifetime tobacco use, 89.5%* responded that they had never used, a higher number than nationwide (87.9%).However, only 65%* of Wayne County youth believed that there is great risk in smoking one or more packs of cigarettes daily, which was lower than nationwide (71%).

*Wayne County YASUS 2019

Tobacco Use: Risk and Protective FactorsRural communities are more at risk for tobacco use/abuse due to the following factors:

  • Fewer healthcare resources or less access to those resources (e.g., travel distance to a doctor or limited internet access for virtual medical visits)
  • Tobacco ads often target rural residents
  • Fewer local policies regarding tobacco sales and use
  • Tribal sovereignty

Research shows that the following are effective prevention efforts:

Another effective prevention effort is advocating for local-level policies likeTobacco Retailer Licenses (TRL). Businesses with TRL have to pay renewal fees and are subject to violation penalties. How else does advocating for TRL benefit our Coalition? According to CADCA, it helps us:

  • Maintain a list of tobacco and e-cigarette retailers
  • Provide retailers with education on the tobacco laws they must comply with
  • Ensure every retailer in a community is visited each year for a compliance check
  • Reduce the density or clustering of retailers
  • Restrict businesses located near schools or youth-oriented facilities from selling tobacco
  • Reduce sales to youth
  • Restrict the types of businesses that can sell tobacco
This chart is provided by CADCA.

Youth and Tobacco: Is Education Enough?

What role do youth play in tobacco prevention? There are 3 main approaches when trying to reach youth, some more effective than others (information directly from CADCA):

1. Education alone is ineffective. While there is value to anti-drug lectures and substance prevention lessons in health class, research shows that scare tactics do not work. Consequence-based presentations send youth the unwanted message that adults always know best. We want to avoid depicting youth as deficient, in need of fixing, and without a voice.

2. Involvement is better, but still not best. Youth Coalitions like Teen Institute (TI) give teens more of an active role. They may help with campaigns, events, advocacy, and attend meetings. However,  we must go beyond merely allowing student involvement in our prevention work. Often youth are acting as spokespeople when they've had no input into the scripts, and only the "good" kids are cultivated and given opportunities.

3. Engagement is the goal! Young people should have just as much input as adults. Teens in Youth Coalitions can decide (with guidance) what they are going to say publicly on behalf of their Coalition. They could co-lead meetings with adults, assist in decision making, help with prevention research, and educate peers and community members. All of these efforts will help them gain valuable leadership skills.

For more information:

All research references are cited using hyperlinks.
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