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Get the facts! Know the dangers and health effects of tobacco and other substances and reduce your risk of harm.

Maine Facts

of high schoolers smoke
of middle schoolers smoke
of all youth use smokeless tobacco
more than
aren't interested in quitting
are "very confident" they could quit
of teens said they drank in the past month
of high schoolers say it's easy to get alcohol
say they've had 5+ alcoholic drinks in the past 2 weeks
of high schoolers say there's no harm in using cannabis
of high schoolers say they've misused a prescription drug
year old teens are likely to try cannabis for the first time

Products to Know


Finely cut tobacco leaves rolled in thin paper for smoking.

Health Concern

Nicotine is the primary component of tobacco, and is the primary reason tobacco is addictive.

Electronic Vapor Products

Devices used to aerosolize active ingredients for the purpose of inhalation.

Health Concern

Currently unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so amount of nicotine is unknown. Nicotine is addictive in any form and lethal in high doses.

Chewing Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco consumed by placing a portion of the tobacco between the cheek and gum or upper lip.

Health Concern

It is highly addictive, containing high levels of nicotine and many cancer-causing chemicals. In addition to the cancer risk, other oral side effects include concerns with gums, teeth, and bad breath.


Flavored smokeless tobacco.

Health Concern

Same risks as chewing tobacco, but faded sweeteners and flavors make it more appealing to youth.


Tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaf in a series of types, flavors, and sizes.

Health Concern

Cigars contain the same hazards as cigarettes and are taxed at a much lower rate, resulting in lower prices.


Hand-rolled tendu leaves tied up with string.

Health Concern

Bidis contain low-grade tobacco and more tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide than cigarettes.

Kreteks (Clove Cigarettes)

Cigarettes made with a blend of tobacco, cloves and other flavors.

Health Concern

Contain the substance “Eugenol” which is a mild anesthetic that causes a person to smoke more deeply, making them even more of a hazard than cigarettes.

Natural Cigarettes

All natural, additive-free cigarettes.

Health Concern

Contain hundreds of different chemicals, many of which can be extremely dangerous when burned and inhaled.


Hand held devices made specifically to smoke tobacco with a chamber, stem, and mouthpiece.

Health Concern

Use black (air cured) tobacco, which carries a higher risk of esophageal and lung cancer, even for those that do not inhale.

Water Pipes (Hookahs)

An instrument that mixes tobacco smoke with water or other liquid, then draws into the mouth.

Health Concern

The water does not filter out toxic chemicals and group sharing can increase spread of germs.

Potentially Reduced Exposure Products (PREPS)

Alternative tobacco products put out by various tobacco companies with the explicit or implied claim that they are less harmful than mainstream products.

Health Concern

Sometimes confused with products such as nicotine gum, lozenge or inhaler, which have been approved to help with smoking cessation. PREPS are not lower-risk and are not approved for this use.


Recreational or medicinal drug.

Health Concern

Long-term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability.

Opioids (Fentanyl)

A prescription drug typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery.

Health Concern

50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, heroin, and other dangerous drugs.


Typical products such as glue, spray cans, paints or sprays are inhaled.

Health Concern

Inhalants are a serious risk to youth. Users can die the 1st, 10th or 100th time a product is misused as an inhalant.

Hallucinogens (LSD, Acid)

A psychedelic drug known for its psychological effects.

Health Concern

Used as an escape drug, with possible adverse psychiatric reactions such as anxiety, paranoia, and delusions.

MDMA (Molly, Ecstacy)

A hallucinogen or stimulant.

Health Concern

Risks of overdose includes high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, and in severe cases, a loss of consciousness and seizures.

Synthetic Drugs
(K2, Spice, Bath Salts)

Man-made chemicals rather than natural ingredients.

Health Concern

Due to growing number of chemicals developed, there is no way of knowing what the drugs contain and the effects are unknown.

Second and Thirdhand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke

There is no safe level of tobacco smoke. Secondhand is the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker or is given off by burning tobacco. It causes serious health problems in children, adults, and pets. Maine laws help to protect individuals by ensuring that public areas are tobacco-free. You should also develop policies that don’t allow tobacco in your home or place of business.

Thirdhand Smoke

Thirdhand smoke is the tobacco smoke residue that remains on clothing, hair, and furniture after a tobacco product has been put out. Nonsmoking adults, infants and children are at risk for tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch surfaces or materials containing thirdhand smoke.

Breathe Easy Maine

Maine leads the nation in creating laws and policies that protect individuals from secondhand smoke. Breathe Easy Maine has been nationally recognized for its effort to reduce exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke through the promotion of strong voluntary policies that lead to reduced tobacco use and increased tobacco-free living throughout Maine. Learn more.

Health Effects on Youth

During a child’s normal development, they experience physical changes, peer pressure, and a desire for independence that may lead to experimentation with tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Because a child’s body is still growing, tobacco and alcohol use affects youth differently than adults and can negatively impact emotional and physical development, as well as lead to long-term health effects. What’s more, they are often unaware of the risks of addiction, which can interfere with school, relationships, and health.

Everyday, 1,500 kids become daily smokers, and one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.
Nicotine is highly addictive for youth and it's poisonous - it is a pesticide used on crops and can be deadly if ingested.
Youth smoking can lead to lungs not working as well and is related to poor lung growth, chronic coughing, and wheezing.
Tobacco use narrows blood vessels, strains the heart, decreases oxygen, and causes shortness of breath.
Teen tobacco use can cause unpleasant side effects such as increased phlegm, acne, colds, trouble sleeping, and excess facial hair on girls.
Alcohol can have long-term effects on the developing teen brain including memory formation, personality, and behavior development.
Alcohol is a major cause of death from injuries among young people, including car crashes, homicides, suicides, and injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.
Youth who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
Alcohol lowers teens' good judgment and self-control, leading to bad decisions and risky behavior including sexual activity, increasing the chance of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). It also increases the risk of carrying out, or being a victim of, a physical or sexual assault.
Alcohol keeps teens from doing their best in school, work, and learning new skills, which can affect them for the rest of their life.
Youth cannabis use can lead to experimentation and dependence on other drugs.
With cannabis and drug use, teens are often experimenting with dangerous chemicals and can't know for sure what they are putting into their bodies and how it will affect them.
Cannabis and drug use can have permanent effects on brain development and long-term memory, as well as impact judgment and coordination.

Know the Dangers

Using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs is dangerous. Not only do they impact emotional and physical development, but also can lead to long-term disease and addiction, which can interfere with school, relationships, and health.

  • Decreased breathing function and long-term lung disease
  • Narrows blood vessels, strains the heart, and decreases oxygen
  • Increased phlegm, acne, colds, trouble sleeping, and facial hair on girls
  • Impacts memory, personality, and behavior development
  • Increased risk of car crashes, falls, burns, and deaths
  • Bad decision-making and risky behaviors
  • Risk of alcohol dependence
  • Problems with learning and memory
  • Distorted perceptions and panic attacks
  • Risk of addiction
  • Interferes with coordination, decision making, and normal function
  • Dangerous, unknown chemicals
  • Risk of addiction, overdose and death