Tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death, killing 480,000 people in the United States each year. Of all adult smokers nationwide, 90% began smoking while in their teens, or earlier, and two-thirds became regular smokers before the age of 19.
The tobacco industry spends more than $8.49 billion annually on marketing and advertising, with $606.6 million specially allocated for marketing in the state of Texas. Yet, the annual smoking-attributable economic costs in the US are estimated to be between $151 to $170 billion for lost productivity and healthcare expenditures.
It is estimated that more than 250 million children and young people alive today will ultimately die from tobacco-related diseases unless rates decline. Scientific evidence supports that one of the best ways to reduce the power of tobacco marketing is an aggressive public education campaign.
Don’t Smoke Your Life Away
In 2004, the Gift of Life implemented the Don’t Smoke Your Life Away anti-tobacco program to combat the tobacco industry’s influence on youth, while also educating Southeast Texans on the healthcare hazards and economic impact of smoking.
Presentations in BISD middle schools and high schools throughout the school year.
ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience), a web-based curriculum designed by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Texas School of Public Health and incorporated in the Beaumont Independent School District curriculum.
Presentations for youth detained at the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center, as well as those on probation, through joint efforts with IEA – Inspire, Encourage, Achieve.
Regional anti-smoking billboard campaigns that heighten awareness regarding the deadly effects of tobacco.
Information on Don’t Smoke Your Life Away is also included in nearly 100 annual Sidney “Chief” Dauphin Educational Outreach Program presentations that have impacted the lives of thousands of youth and adults at high schools, churches and community groups throughout seven counties. Facilitators encourage healthy decisions, activities and habits that can greatly reduce cancer risks, with a special emphasis on tobacco prevention.
Same Mission – New Synergy
In 2014, the Gift of Life was awarded a one-year Hearst Grant for the Don’t Smoke Your Life Away campaign.
Imbued with an all new momentum, the Gift of Life formed a Tobacco Control Coalition, comprised of leaders in the fields of business, education, religion, government, healthcare media and non-profit services. Members of this coalition serve as anti-tobacco advocates, maximize synergy within community partners, minimize duplication of efforts and create a platform to share anti-tobacco information and tools. The coalition seeks to develop evidence-based surveys and metrics to evaluate its progress and demonstrate success, reduce tobacco product consumption among adults and young people, increase quitting, reduce secondhand smoke exposure and contribute to reductions in tobacco-related disease and deaths.