Pennsylvania Communities are Champions for Young Lungs at Play.

Posted: August 16, 2011

Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined—and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes—such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide) and smokeless tobacco use. Children are particularly vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke.

Secondhand tobacco smoke or tobacco smoke pollution (TSP)  is a toxic mixture of gases and fine particles including:

• Smoke from a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe
• Smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person or people smoking
• More than 7,000 chemicals including  250  that are known to be toxic and at least 69 that are carcinogenic (cancer causing)

Secondhand tobacco smoke is a leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States causing:

• Disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke
• Increased risk among children for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, asthma, and immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system
• Coronary heart disease and lung cancer

Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined—and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes—such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide) and smokeless tobacco use. ²
Children are particularly vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke. 

• Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children. 1
• A study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics — finds that children exposed to secondhand smoke in the home are twice as likely to develop either ADHD or a learning disability.
• Annually, 858,000 Pennsylvania children are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.²
• Over one million illnesses in children are diagnosed as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke every year.3

There is no risk free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  Even brief exposure can be harmful to health. 

Children Imitate Adult Behaviors:
When family, friends and associates of a young person who uses tobacco act in a way that allows that individual to continue using, their behavior is called enabling. Teachers, coaches and youth leaders who “look the other way” or choose not to confront tobacco use are also enabling. 
The majority of adult tobacco users started before the age of 18.
• 18,500 Pennsylvania youth under the age of 18 become new daily smokers each year. ²
• 300,000 kids now under 18 and alive in Pennsylvania will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.²

Tobacco is an Environmental Hazard:  Research funded by Legacy and published in the journal Tobacco Control shows that, “Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, and cigarette filters/butts are the No. 1 littered item found on beaches and in urban environments.”
• It is estimated that annually 5.6 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide.
• $5 billion is spent every year for cleaning and maintenance costs associated with smoking.

                                               Annual Report | 2011
                                                Young Lungs at Play
Young Lungs at Play (YLAP), funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative, assists communities to enact policies and adopt enforceable ordinances or policies that prohibit the use of tobacco in public places frequented by children and their families.  The initiative's objectives are to decrease smoking prevalence, teen smoking initiation; and exposure to secondhand smoke.

The program is coordinated through  18 Penn State Cooperative Extension Offices and 15 Program Assistants that work with community leaders and volunteers to:

• Educate about the importance of creating tobacco free outdoor spaces in their community
• Develop and implement a local tobacco free parks and playground ordinance, policy or resolution
• Promote a communications plan to inform the public
• Distribute and post Young Lungs at Play signs in tobacco free areas

In the first year of implementation, July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, YLAP Program Assistants:

• Trained 273 volunteers representing youth in leadership organizations, parent organizations and families to help educate and advocate to elected officials, community leaders and policy makers the importance of tobacco-free outdoor places where children play
• Conducted 96 community presentations to educate 1,084 policy makers  how to implement YLAP
Among the 18 counties:

• 70 community policies, ordinances and/or resolutions were passed  to designate tobacco free areas.
• 567 YLAP signs are currently displayed in 302 parks and playgrounds.
• 61 media articles were published to create public awareness of YLAP.

Tobacco Prevention Educators Help to Expand the Program Statewide:

Through the collaborative efforts of Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Tobacco Primary Contractors, the YLAP program has expanded  to include an additional:

• 40 Pennsylvania counties
• 32 new YLAP policies statewide

This partnership will help to sustain the YLAP program beyond the initial grant
Young Lungs at Play Across the State (June 30, 2011)
■  Original 18 YLAP Counties
■  Regional Contractors –Pennsylvania Division of Tobacco Prevention and       
1 HHS, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, HHS, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.
² Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids 7/20/2011
3 National Cancer Institute, Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke: The Report of the California  Environmental Protections Agency. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph no. 10.
                       “The debate is over. The science is clear.
                             Secondhand smoke is not a mere
                         annoyance but a serious health hazard.”

Surgeon General’s 2006 Report on the Health
 Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke.
“The message perceived by youth is that their behavior is acceptable, since the authority figures in their life know about it and don’t say anything.”

Joe Moffa, Saint Vincent College Prevention Projects.