By: Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
The next time you’re out with your kids, take a moment to pause and look at the adult smokers you pass on the street. Research shows that many of them took up the addictive habit when they were kids — and too young to truly understand the very real risks and dangers of tobacco use.
By law, a person has to be at least 18 years old to purchase tobacco products, yet more than 80 percent of adult smokers began before they were 18. Each day in the United States more than 3,800 youth smoke their first cigarette. It’s estimated that more than 1,000 youth become daily smokers each day.
As a mother and a doctor, I know that this is something that must change. And, one of the best ways to help our kids grow into healthy, happy adults is to teach them about the dangers of smoking and tobacco use. And, just as you do with your family, you can play an important role in your community when it comes to getting the word out about the dangers of tobacco. FDA is working to ensure retailers are fully aware of regulations that help protect kids from the dangers of tobacco. Everyone — from moms (and dads!) to retailers and community leaders — can help protect kids from tobacco.
We all know that our nation’s youth hold the key to our future. This Mother’s Day, let’s make sure it’s a healthy one.
Margaret Hamburg, M.D., is Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration