• One in five teenagers is a regular smoker.
  • One-third of young people who are "just experimenting" end up being addicted by the time they are 20.
  • Tobacco risks include smoker's cough, frequent colds, stroke, emphysema, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer of the mouth, lungs, larynx, and esophagus.
  • Nicotine, the main drug in tobacco, is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States.
  • Young adults (ages 18 to 25) are reported to be the highest rate of users of any tobacco product.
  • Once someone is hooked on nicotine, the addiction is extremely difficult to overcome.
  • Cigarette smoking accounts for 90 percent of lung cancer cases in the United States.
  • Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are illegal for those under 18 years of age.
  • Nicotine raises the heart and respiratory rate.
  • Repeated doses of nicotine alter brain activity.
  • Each year in the United States, about 440,000 people die as a result of smoking.
  • One in every five deaths in the United States is related to smoking.
  • In 1989, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report concluding that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addictive and that nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction.
  • In the same report, it was determined that smoking is a major cause of stroke and the third leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Nicotine is both a stimulant and a sedative to the central nervous system.
  • Most users develop tolerance for nicotine and need greater amounts to produce the same desired effect.

Effects on Youth

  • Cigarette smoking is perhaps the most devastating preventable cause of disease and premature death.
  • Smoking is particularly dangerous for teens because their bodies are still developing and changing, and the 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke can adversely affect this process.
  • Cigarettes can serve as a major gateway to other forms of drug addiction.
  • Adolescent cigarette smokers are 100 times more likely to smoke marijuana.
  • Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke enters the lungs and affects the body.
  • Teens who smoke small amounts daily are still at high risk for addiction.
  • Both old and young smokers can become addicted to nicotine.
  • Smoking affects the immune system negatively.

Warning Signs

  • Smell of tobacco smoke on clothes and hair
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Matches or lighters in rooms or pockets
  • Reduced athletic ability

Prevention Information

What can you do to prevent your child from using tobacco?

  • Provide a tobacco-free home environment.
  • Set a good example by not using tobacco yourself.
  • Give clear, consistent messages about the dangers of tobacco.
  • Support coordinated school health programs related to it.
  • Understand and address the reasons why teens might use tobacco (e.g., stress, looking for acceptance).
  • If tobacco use is suspected, help your teen set realistic goals for quitting by giving him or her encouragement and positive reinforcement.


  • Local information and resources are available by calling the Seven Counties Services, Inc. Regional Prevention Center at (502) 589-8600 or by visiting and clicking on Prevention Programs and Services under the “Our Services” tab.
  • If you suspect or know that your teen is using tobacco or other drugs, contact the Early Intervention Program (EIP), a Seven Counties Services, Inc. assessment and educational program for youth, at (502) 439-9699.
  • Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is an organization that rallies a campaign for kids who are tobacco-free.
  • Foundation for a Smokefree America is a nonprofit organization with a message to motivate young people to stay tobacco-free.