Young girls are now smoking cigarettes almost as much as young boys are, according to the results of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey released on August 7, 2003. And both boys and girls are using other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, snuff, and bidis as much or more than cigarettes.
The WHO estimates that tobacco use kills about 4.9 million people per year, and the number is rising steadily – expected to double within the next twenty years. But even this appears to be an underestimate, because the figures are based on similar percentages of girls smoking as found in adult women, an assumption shattered by the new survey results.
We need to teach our girls about tobacco, why not to start, and how to quit – especially if they are pregnant or have children. We also need to broaden our tobacco message to focus not just on cigarettes, but on spit tobacco and other tobacco sources.
I’m proud of my father, John C. Greene, DMD, for his champion role in removing spit tobacco from the accepted culture of all levels of baseball. I hope the survey results inspire many champions to work for the health of our girls.