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5.6 million.

That’s the number of young people alive today in the United States who are projected to die prematurely from the use of combustible tobacco products.

More than 44 million Americans currently smoke, and most of them started before the age of 18. Every day, more than 3,200 young people try their first cigarette and another 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers. Tobacco use costs our country more than $130 billion in medical care costs and nearly $151 billion in lost productivity every year, damaging both our economy and our collective health. Millions of Americans suffer the effects of tobacco, and countless families, friends and communities across our nation have been impacted by it.

That’s why Legacy is committed to empowering young people to reject tobacco and create “Generation Free,” the first generation for whom tobacco use is a thing of the past. As the largest non-profit public health organization in the nation devoted specifically to tobacco control, we have a history of producing game-changing public health initiatives – like our award-winning truth® youth smoking prevention campaign – that are proven to reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults.

The good news? We’re closer than ever to reaching our goal. Despite the staggering number who still use tobacco, the vast majority of young people DON’T smoke. In fact, in part due to the efforts of Legacy and our partners in the public health community, the rate of smoking among teens has reached a historic low of 9%.

But there’s still work to be done. And we’re in it to win it.

Because the stakes in this fight couldn’t be any higher.