With the majority of adults who smoke becoming addicted to cigarettes under the age of 18, the high rate of new teen smokers each year remains a significant challenge for tobacco control (CDC, 2012). Magnitude of the Problem
Every day, more than 3,000 children in the United States under the age of 18 become addicted to cigarettes (ALA, 2012). This means that for every three high school seniors graduating this year, one will die prematurely from smoking-related disease, with 14 years of their life taken away from them (NCES, 2012). Experts consider cigarette smoking as the chief preventable cause of premature death in the US, yet tobacco is still responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in both men and women every year (Koh, 2012). These statistics do not even illustrate the thousands of people alive today suffering from lung, mouth and throat cancer, reduced fertility, higher risk of blindness, gangrene and amputated limbs. There is considerable evidence indicating that health problems related to smoking are determined by duration and intensity of use (CDC, 2005). Some of these problems include, early cardiovascular disease, smaller lungs that don’t function properly, asthma, and DNA damage leading to cancer almost anywhere in the body (CDC, 2005). Given that 90% of all adult smokers start smoking under the age of 18, the long-term use of cigarettes can lead to a significant increase in the risk of these outcomes (Koh, 2012). With 800,000? new teenage smokers each year, we are adding millions of avoidable deaths to the statistics (CDC, 2012).The US Surgeon General has labeled smoking as the most important preventable cause of death in our society. Something must be done to prevent these unnecessary and untimely deaths among our youth. Theoretical Framework
The theory of social justice has been described as having a “twin aim.” The first states that a “just” society is concerned with securing a sufficient level of wellbeing for everyone. One of the key elements of wellbeing under this definition is health. The government and other regulatory systems have control over the social and economic institutions that affect the major determinants of health. Therefore, under the theory of social justice, the government should create a foundation for a society that promotes a sufficient level of health (Faden, 2008). The second aim of social justice seeks to create policies that ameliorate the forces creating systematic disadvantage (Faden, 2008). These forces are a combination of disparate social and economic conditions that are both difficult to avoid and escape from. It is an obligation of the justice system to minimally prevent these circumstances from getting worse while striving to mitigate them in the future. The overall goal of the social justice system should be to prevent these circumstances from ever existing at all (Faden, 2008). Applying the theory of social justice to tobacco use shows us that in a just society, government has an obligation to increase the wellbeing of those individuals who’s health is impacted by cigarettes, especially those that are the least well off. Young adults are the most susceptible group to starting tobacco use and to becoming addicted to nicotine (CDC, 2012). Society has failed to protect this subgroup by allowing smoking to be portrayed as a social norm. In fact, the tobacco industry pays $10 billion a year for marketing of their products, displaying normalize tobacco use in magazines, on the Internet, and at retail stores frequented by youth. A just society would seek to prevent this behavior in order to reduce avoidable smoking related deaths and promote a sufficient level of health for all people. If nothing is done, trends indicate that the deaths due to smoking will only increase (CDC, 2012). Conceptual Model
This conceptual model shows the distal and proximate determinates of premature death due to smoking-related illness. Starting with political factors, we...