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Smoking on (Very Slow) Decline


In conjunction with the upcoming 2008 Great American Smokeout (November 20), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a status report of the national effort to reduce smoking to no more than 12% of the population by 2010. While progress is evident, the progress is coming too slowly to meet the goal, according to CDC officials.


US smokers are thought to number 43.4 million, or 19.8% of the 2007 adult population, down less than 1% from 2006’s 20.8%. The national objective is to reduce the rate of adult smokers to less than 12% by 2010.


Smoking wreaks havoc on the lives of smokers and their loved ones. It also produces substantial imposition to the national health system and passes staggering financial burden along to society in general.


For example:

  • 30% of all deaths from cancer started with smoking.
    80% of all lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking.
    So are 80% of all diagnoses of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
    Smokers develop and die from cardiovascular diseases much younger than nonsmokers do.
    About 50% of all long-term smokers die in middle age, with the risk of early death highest when smoking began during one’s teen years.
    The single most important thing a smoker can do today to protect his or her health? Quit smoking.
    Smoking endangers the health of nonsmoking family members and coworkers, too.
    There are more options available than ever before to help a smoker kick the habit.
    Telephone counseling and drug therapies double a smoker’s chances of quitting for good.
    Each year from 2000 to 2004, about 443,000 Americans died prematurely because of smoking or the second-hand smoke from someone else’s cigarettes.
    During that same time period, the cost of smoking-related healthcare services was about $96 billion each year.
    The cost of smoking-related heath care is rising dramatically. In 1998, the annual expenditure was only $75 billion (compared to 2000’s $96 billion, just two years later).
    On-the-job productivity lost to cigarette-related healthcare issues? $97 billion per year.
    With $96 billion invested in healthcare expenses and $97 billion lost to absence from or impaired performance at work, the national economic burden for cigarette smoking has been approximately $193 billion every year since 2000.

The CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health has devised a plan by which five million people in five years will quit smoking if every state were to implement the plan by the end of this year. The CDC estimates the tobacco-related premature death toll would drop by hundreds of thousands every year if its plan became nationwide.


A similar effort, the Great American Smokeout, to be celebrated for the 32nd time on Thursday, November 20, calls on smokers everywhere to not smoke at all for just the one day. Hosted by the American Cancer Society, the annual smokeout encourages smokers to abstain for the day and offers educational and motivational tools to make the quitting process as comfortable and successful as possible.