OPINION – Our generation — aka Generation Z — is faced with a shrinking middle class and high teen unemployment. We’re coming of age in a world entering an era of slow growth. So it makes sense that we worry about our financial futures more than the generation before us, and that we’re the first generation since the Depression era (almost 80 years ago) to have our earning potential and financial independence so top-of-mind. Pretty stressful, right?
All this financial anxiety has made us good penny pinchers. Nearly 60 percent of teens classify themselves as “savers” versus “spenders,” and more than two-thirds of us agree that constantly buying new stuff is overrated. We’re savvy when it comes to our finances, but there’s one thing impacting our wallets in a way that the vast majority of us don’t even realize: tobacco use. Why?
Research shows that smokers earn 20 percent less than nonsmokers. That translates into young adult smokers missing out on up to $10,000 a year. Think of all the things — and amazing experiences — these smokers miss out on because they’re lighting up. Oh, and that $10K doesn’t even include the cost of cigarettes, which averages $2,193 per year for a pack-a-day smoker. With that amount of money, you could buy 47 concert tickets, 44 new video games, 253 movie tickets or 548 venti lattes.
With so many uncontrollable factors impacting our financial success and sense of security, it’s important for us to fully understand — and eliminate — this one burden that we CAN control. It’s time to end smoking – and this smokers’ wage gap – for good.
Enter truth. As one of the nation’s longest running and most successful youth tobacco prevention campaigns, truth has been spreading the word about the harmful effects of tobacco use beyond the obvious health effects. Thanks to truth and their #FinishIT movement, we learned that smoking is hurting our dating with the music video “Left Swipe Dat” and endangering our furry BFFs (remember #CATmageddon?).
Now truth’s newest campaign, #SQUADLESS, brings to life exactly what young smokers miss out on when they choose to smoke. Truth is all about sharing these shocking facts and empowering my generation to be the one that can end tobacco use for good.
The Washington County Youth Coalition works tirelessly to promote campaigns like truth, and now our efforts are making a difference.
Today, teen cigarette use is down to a historic low of 7 percent. That’s incredible, especially considering that a whopping 23 percent of teens smoked back in 2000. But tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in this country, and almost half-a-million Americans will die from tobacco-related causes this year. One in 3 youth smokers will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases. What’s worse is that Big Tobacco is currently spending $9.6 billion every year — $26 million every day — to market its products and hook new smokers to replace the more than 1,300 smokers who die each day from tobacco-related death.
But the good news is, we can do it. We can be the generation that ends smoking for good.
Our generation — Gen Z, Centennials, call us what you will — has some serious grit. I’m talking guts, initiative, and tenacity. We’re tough, we’re resilient, we’re justice seekers. In a scary world where so much is uncertain, we can take a stand for what’s right. Together, we can overcome Big Tobacco. Together, we can build a successful, bright, tobacco-free future.
Get involved in the #FinsihIT movement by visiting thetruth.com, following @truthorange on Twitter and sharing the message of #SQUADLESS. Follow the Washington County Youth Coalition on Facebook or on Twitter @_wcyc_ and Instagram @_wcyc_.
WRITTEN BY Jarom Price, senior at Pine View High School and president of the Washington County Youth Coalition, and Allie Sullivan, senior at Desert Hills High School and vice president of the Washington County Youth Coalition; submitted by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department
Ed. note: Definitions for Generation Z (iGen, Centennials) vary as to its start date between those born in the early ’90s or 1996 or 2000, but largely agree that the generation encompasses those born present day. The Center for Generational Kinetics defines the birth years for Gen Z as 1996 to the present and states that those who define it as beginning at 2000 are often nonresearchers who don’t understand how 9/11 figures into the analysis.
“The last, most important defining moment for Millennials (the generation preceding Gen Z) was September 11, 2001,” the Center states on its website. “Those born from 1996 onward do not remember September 11, 2001. If you don’t remember 9/11, then you are NOT a Millennial, but a member of the generation after Millennials: iGen or Gen Z.”
Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.