Credit CDC MMWR
Those of us old enough to remember black & white TV sets, `rabbit ears’ antennas, and the early days of television know just how pervasive cigarette smoking was in our society, and the media, 50 years ago.
It seemed as if everyone smoked . . . at home, in public, in the movies, and on stage.
The Red Cross handed out cigarettes to the troops during both world wars. Tobacco companies were the major sponsor for many radio and TV shows. And everyone knew what LSMFT meant.
Celebrities (and sometimes even doctors) offered testimonials as to their favorite brand, promoting their smoothness, flavor, safety . . . and yes, even their `health benefits’.
All of that began to change, albeit slowly, when the Surgeon General’s first report on the dangers of tobacco appeared in 1964.
Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General held cigarette smoking responsible for a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers. The report estimated that average smokers had a nine- to ten-fold risk of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers: heavy smokers had at least a twenty-fold risk.
Two years later, the United States became the first country to require a health warning on packages of cigarettes.
Caution: Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health (1966–1970)
Since then the warnings have escalated, and societal pressures and restrictions on when and where people can smoke have increased. Over the past few decades, the percentage of adults who smoke has been cut by more than half.
Last week the CDC’s MMWR released a report on tobacco use in the United States as of 2011.
November 9, 2012 / Vol. 61 / No. 44
According to the 2010 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, approximately 443,000 U.S. adults die from smoking-related illnesses each year. In addition, smoking has been estimated to cost the United States $96 billion in direct medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity annually. To assess progress toward the Healthy People 2020 objective to reduce cigarette smoking by adults, CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health used data from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey to estimate current national cigarette smoking prevalence. This report summarizes their findings.
You can read the full report at this link. Here is the short version as summarized in the report:
What is already known on this topic?
Approximately one in five U.S. adults smoke cigarettes, and certain subpopulations have a higher prevalence of smoking. Smoking has been estimated to cost the United States $96 billion in direct medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity annually.
What is added by this report?
Although smoking prevalence declined slightly since 2005, it was 19.0% in 2011, higher than the Healthy People 2020 target of 12% for all U.S. adults. Smoking prevalence is particularly high among U.S. adults living below the federal poverty level, those with less education, and those reporting having a disability or activity limitation.
What are the implications for public health practice?
To meet the Healthy People 2020 target for smoking among adults, effective interventions need to be continued or augmented, such as a combination of smoke-free laws, tobacco price increases, access to tobacco cessation treatments and services, and antitobacco media campaigns featuring graphic personal stories on the adverse health impact of smoking.
As a former smoker, one who grew up in a smoking household, I know how tough quitting can be. I tried many times without success. Then I talked to my doctor, and we worked out a strategy that saw me smoke my last cigarette more than 5 1/2 years ago.
If you smoke, and would like to quit, talk to your doctor about your options. There are medications and techniques that can help you get through the ordeal of withdrawal.
For more on how to quit, visit the:
Your lungs, your loved ones, and your pocketbook with all thank you for it.