Tobacco is a leafy plant, grown all around the world, that contains a powerful drug called nicotine which is highly addictive. Youth use of tobacco products—in any form, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) like e-cigarettes—is unsafe. Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain and using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.

Knowing What Tobacco Looks Like

People can smoke, sniff, chew, or inhale the vapors of tobacco and nicotine products. The tobacco industry is developing new products which may be tough to recognize as tobacco when you see it. Tobacco products now come in all shapes and sizes including vape pens, USB drives, and smart watches. Just because a tobacco product comes in a colorful wrapper does not make the nicotine any less addictive.

Tobacco and Health Impacts For Teens.

The National Institute of Health explains the health risk of tobacco as:

"Nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream and goes to your adrenal glands just above your kidneys. The glands release adrenaline which increases your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. Adrenaline also gives you a lot of good feelings all at once.

While nicotine is addictive, most of the health effects come from other tobacco chemicals. Tobacco use harms every organ in your body. Smoking tobacco products can cause lung, mouth, stomach, kidney, and bladder cancers. It can also cause lung problems, like coughing, and lead to heart disease, eye problems, and yellow teeth."

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), use of tobacco products is started and established primarily during adolescence with nearly 9 out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first trying smoking by age 18.

A report by the from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, estimated that more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students reported currently using e-cigarettes in 2021, with more than 8 in 10 of those youth using flavored e-cigarettes.

Marketing To Teens - Not Your Target

Youth are exposed to tobacco product marketing and the more marketing they are exposed to for e-cigarrettes is associated with an increase chance of e-cigarrete use.

  Youth Exposure to Advertising and E-Cigarette Use E-cigarette Use Among Youth is Rising as E-cigarette Advertising Grows

Youth are also exposed to tobacco products in movies. According to the CDC, in 2019 nearly one in four movies rated G or PG contained tobacco incidents. The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that exposure to onscreen smoking in movies causes young people to start smoking. Find out more about smoking and the movies here.


 - Learn more about nicotine and tobacco health impacts at the National Institue of Health at

- Click here for quick facts on Vaping and E-Cigarettes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

- Learn how to get help for yourself or your friends if they are addicted to nicotine.

  • Support is available whether you are ready to quit or just ready to find out more.
  • Anyone 13 and older can call the Tobacco Quitline for support at 1-866-Quit-Yes
  • Support specifically for teens is available at


According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 80% of Illinois adults are non-smokers. While tobacco use has declined in Illinois, disparities still exist.

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