NEW ULM - It's a sobering statistic. In Minnesota, 102,000 of Minnesota's young people - more than four times the total population of Brown County - will die prematurely as a result of smoking.
That's the message that Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) and the Brown County Public Health Department promoted for National Kick Butts Day on Wednesday. Area schools participated in this event to help spread the word about the devastating effects of smoking on youth.
Studies show when individuals begin smoking before the age of 26, the likelihood of them becoming lifetime smokers is greater; 99 percent of all first tobacco use occurs by the age of 26. These individuals will die an average of 13 years earlier than their nonsmoking peers. The following numbers from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website tell the toll of tobacco in Minnesota:
Students at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School displayed the number 102,000, representing the 102,000 young Minnesota who will die early from smoking-related illnesses.
High school students who smoke 18.1 percent or 53,100
Male high school students who use smokeless or spit tobacco 15 percent (use by females is much lower)
Kids under 18 who become new daily smokers each year 4,700
Packs of cigarettes bought or smoked by kids each year 13.4 million
Kids now under 18 and alive in Minnesota who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking 102,000 (that is more than four times the population of Brown County)
Students from New Ulm High School and Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School are displaying some of these numbers in prominent places on campus to help other students and the general public realize the deadly consequences of tobacco use.
"The youth of our community are our greatest asset and we need to be mindful of the toll tobacco is taking on their future," said Melissa Hoffmann, RN with Brown County.
For more information about the National Kick Butts Day, visit www.kickbuttsday.org.