On Dec. 13, the state Department of Public Health released the first State Health Officer's Report on Tobacco Use and Promotion. It indicates a decrease of cigarette smoking and an increase of smokeless tobacco products such as Snus among California high school students. According to the report, smokeless tobacco use among high school students has risen from 3.1 percent in 2004 to 3.9 percent in 2011.
This increase is due to tobacco companies' promotion of their products, easy availability and illegal sales to minors at stores. Although cigarettes sales have declined, tobacco products continue to kill more people than alcohol, AIDS, automobile crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined, totaling 34,000 Californians each year.
As a member of the Stanislaus County Tobacco Outreach and Prevention Services Coalition and as a parent, I am committed to assist the coalition and find innovative ways to counter pro-tobacco influences. It is time we put a stop to illegal tobacco sales to minors. Our youth deserve to live in a healthy environment.