Facts About Substance Abuse


12 Key Facts

  1. In Talbot County, 23% of all high school seniors smoke.
  2. 60,000 Maryland school children in grades 6-12 annually smoke 18,600,000 packs of cigarettes.
  3. Every day, 3,000 American children start using tobacco products. That's 1,095,000 each year.
  4. It may take as few as four cigarettes to get hooked.
  5. 80% of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18.
  6. While adult smoking is declining, smoking among children and adolescents is increasing.
  7. Some children are addicted long before they reach high school. The average age of first smoking is 11-13.
  8. 65% of teenagers who smoke wish they hadn't started. No wonder - 50% of lifetime smokers die of tobacco-related diseases.
  9. Teenagers using tobacco before the age of 15 increase their cancer risk by 19 times.
  10. Teenagers who smoke cigarettes are more likely to use other dangerous substances, such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.
  11. Chewing or "spit" tobacco, which also causes cancer, is a growing problem. Its use among teenage males increased 400% between 1970 and 1986.
  12. 12. More than 400,000 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses each year, amounting to one in six deaths.

It's Easy for Kids to Get Tobacco

  • Although it is illegal in all states to sell tobacco to youth under age 18 or for youth under age 18 to possess and use tobacco products, children and teens have easy access to tobacco products.
  • One report estimates that minors can purchase cigarettes 70-80% of the time over the counter and 90-100% of the time from vending machines.
  • Illegal sales to minors generate $221 million in yearly profits to the tobacco industry and create a lifetime of demand for tobacco products from each new child that they get hooked.
  • It's no wonder the tobacco industry is willing to spend $11 million a day to advertise and promote smoking in ways that reach youth.

What Teenagers Think About Smoking

  • Teens are more likely to worry about the social "side effects" of smoking - bad breath, smelly clothes, yellow teeth, and appearing unattractive - than they are about health risks.
  • Teens are more concerned with the short-term health risks of smoking, such as decreased endurance and smoker's cough, than they are with long term consequences such as cancer and emphysema.
  • In a government study, 78% of teens who had never smoked said they strongly disliked being around smokers, and 94% preferred to date non-smokers.
  • Teenagers are three times more likely to smoke if their parents and at least one older sibling smoke than if no one in the household smokes.
  • Teenagers whose closest friends are non-smokers seldom smoke; but, almost half of those with at least two close friends who smoke are smokers themselves.
  • Young people are sensitive to "signals" that smoking is acceptable. These signals include visible public smoking, the availability of cigarettes to minors, and the widespread promotion and advertising of tobacco products.


Teen Drinking is Trouble for Youth

  • For young people whose skills and judgements are not fully developed, alcohol use can have very serious consequences. Alcohol impairs judgement, perception, and coordination. It can also result in thoughtless decision-making, such as reckless driving or inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Alcohol use by young people can lead to social problems such as poor school performance, disruption of family life, juvenile crime, delinquency, or other involvement with the judicial system. These problems may, in turn, lead to increased alcohol abuse.
  • Alcohol is toxic. High blood alcohol levels can cause death regardless of age. Young people have a lower tolerance for alcohol than do adults. Even a small amount of alcohol during such activities as skating, biking, or boating can result in impaired judgement causing injury or death.
  • Alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of teenage deaths.

Teen Drinking is Trouble for Adults Too

Article 27, Section 401(b) of the Annotated Code of Maryland states that an adult may not knowingly and willfully allow an individual under 21 years of age to actually possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at the residence, or within the curtilage of the residence, that the adult owns or leases as a tenant and in which the adult resides.

In other words, even if you do not furnish alcohol for an underage drinker in your home or the property around your residence but give implicit approval, such as turning your head or not providing adequate supervision, you may be subject to prosecution under this law.

What This Means to You

If you are convicted of giving alcohol to a person under 21 years of age, you are subject to a:

  • $500 fine for the first offense and
  • $1,000 fine for each additional offense

Others can sue you if you give alcohol to a minor, and they, in turn, hurt someone or damage property.

You may lose time and money for:

  • Attorney conferences and fees
  • Court appearances and costs
  • Fines
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Civil lawsuits

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