“Enough is enough. We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation.” – Dr. Boris Lushniak, acting Surgeon General
To put it plainly and simply: cigarette smoking is a plague upon the health of our nation. While fewer Americans smoke today compared to the 1960s, it remains a huge public health issue with numerous repercussions. The US Surgeon General has just released a new report detailing tobacco use statistics, as well as new illnesses associated with smoking.
Fifty years ago, smoking was first linked to lung cancer. The new report states that along with lung cancer, immune system malfunctions, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cleft palate in infants can be caused by cigarette smoke. It also found that individuals exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of having a stroke.
The new report calculated that over 20 million Americans died in the last fifty years as a result of smoking, and that each year, the United States spends 130 billion dollars on medical expenses directly related to this habit. According to the report, 18 percent of American adults are smokers. While this is down from the 43 percent calculated in 1965, it still takes a significant toll.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated that about 443,000 people each year experience early death from either smoking or from secondhand smoke. The CDC also found that 8.6 million Americans suffer from chronic illnesses caused by cigarettes.
To combat this problem, US health officials are suggesting a crackdown on smoking through tobacco taxes, better access to treatment for quitting smoking, media campaigns, increased spending at state and local levels to work towards decreasing tobacco use and smoke-free air policies. They state that their ultimate goal is to end smoking entirely within one generation.
The new report also casts suspicion on electronic cigarettes, which some view as a revolutionary quitting tool. However, they are so new that their effects on human health have yet to be studied, and may actually entice teens to begin smoking because of the way they are marketed. According to CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, said, “if we’re talking about tobacco products… they are guilty until proven innocent.”
If you are a smoker, quitting is the first step you must take in achieving a healthy lifestyle. No amount of exercise, nutrition or other healthy choices can fully counter the negative impacts of your smoking habit.
There are many resources available today to help you quit. Just think about how much better the quality of life of future generations will be if they are not burdened by this issue.
Wouldn’t it be a relief if our grandchildren did not have to worry about loved ones slowly destroying their health, or their children being exposed to secondhand smoke at friends’ houses?
Also, wouldn’t it be a significant financial relief for them if their hard-earned tax dollars were not going towards our nation’s medical expenses that are caused by this entirely voluntary habit?
-The Alternative Daily