In an area of public health replete with bad news, a positive hint has grown out of the smoke. Fewer American adults are smoking. This means that the knowledge of how disadvantageous to one’s health it is to light up a cigarette is higher than it’s ever been.
According to a “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 43.4 million U.S. adult smokers in 2007. This makes up 19.8% of the overall population. This is a full percentage point lower than 2006, when 20.8% of the population smoked.
The positive is that the rate of smoking is on the decline, where it needs to be for national health purposes. Unfortunately, this rate isn’t fast enough to meet the government’s goal of hitting 12% by the year 2010.
Smoking cigarettes is still a major cost factor in the health and financial systems in the U.S., which are already in troubled waters. Smoking continues to be the world’s number one cause of preventable death. It directly causes 30% of all cancer deaths. That is due in large part to smoking being the cause of often-fatal lung cancer eight times out of 10 Smoking also causes 80% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also causes premature heart disease and early death.
Somewhere around half of the people who smoke for decades die before they should, in middle age.
The CDC also measured the impact on health and worker productivity that smoking inflicts on the nation. From the period of 2000 to 2004, smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke led to 443,000 people dying prematurely. From 2001 to 2004, healthcare costs for problems caused by smoking totaled $96.0 billion. Combined with productivity losses, the CDC has pegged the economic burden of smoking at $193 billion each year.
On November 20, the American Cancer Society runs its “Great American Smokeout.” Smokers are encouraged to quit for just one day. After all, quitting smoking is a day- by-day challenge. The best ways to quit are refining your lifestyle so that the lure of smoking doesn’t coexist with your life, seeking counseling, and looking into what medications and supplements might help. Some alternative techniques such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy are reported to have some benefits as well.
Measures across the country are being put in place to control the use of tobacco in public. The CDC says that if every state adopted the full program of tobacco control, five million fewer people in the U.S. would smoke within five years.