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Youth & Tobacco

Each day in the United States, nearly 3,800 young people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette.

In South Dakota, just over 23% of high school students smoke. Here are some other reasons why we need to talk to our children about not using tobacco:

  • An estimated 1,000 youth under age 18 become daily smokers each year in South Dakota.
  • In the United States, more than 6.3 million children under age 18 alive today will eventually die from smoking-related disease, unless current rates are reversed.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes as many as 300,000 children in the US under the age of 18 months to suffer lower respiratory tract. infections (like pneumonia and
    bronchitis), exacerbates childhood asthma and increases risk of acute, chronic, middle ear infections.
  • Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase severity of attacks.
  • Cigarettes are the most littered item in the U.S.
  • American poison control centers received nearly 8,000 reports in one year of children poisoned by the ingestion of cigarette butts.
  • Stepping on freshly discarded cigarette butts can result in burns.
  • Cigarette butts are often cast onto sidewalks and streets and frequently end up in storm drains the flow into water sources. Within an hour of contact with water,
    cigarette butts can begin leaching chemicals such as cadmium, lead, and arsenic.

If you don't smoke, DON'T START. If you or someone you know needs help quitting, contact the South Dakota Quitline at 1-866-SD QUITS (1-866-737-8487).

"This is Our Watch" is a campaign designed to help retailers follow federal laws and regulations for youth tobacco sales. Materials included in this kit include a poster, regulation flyers, signage, stickers and an age vertification calendar. Live Well Sioux Falls has these available free of charge. If you would like to request a "This is Our Watch" toolkit for your business please email


Source: South Dakota Department of Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids