The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported on November 26 that overall, adult smoking is down and is at the lowest it’s been since they began keeping track in 1965. Smokers accounted for approximately 17.8% of the U.S. adult population in 2013, according to today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Much further, much faster?
This is good news, but the CDC cautions that there is still more that can be done to save lives, live healthier lives and decrease the heavy burden on individuals, families and the nation that comes from tobacco use:
“There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “We can bring down cigarette smoking rates much further, much faster, if strategies proven to work are put in place like funding tobacco control programs at the CDC-recommended levels, increasing prices of tobacco products, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns.”
Smoking is still high in specific groups: young people, those with less education, males, and those below the poverty level. There are exceptionally high numbers of smokers among Native Americans including Alaska natives, people of multiple racial backgrounds and those in the South and Midwest. Additionally, those with a disability and those who are gay/lesbian or bisexual are also disproportionately represented among smokers. This report for the year 2013, by the CDC’s Nation Health Interview Survey (NHIS), was the first to collect data regarding sexual orientation.
Cutting back vs. quitting
“Though smokers are smoking fewer cigarettes, cutting back by a few cigarettes a day rather than quitting completely does not produce significant health benefits,” said Brian King Ph.D., a senior scientific advisor with CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “Smokers who quit before they’re 40 years old can get back almost all of the 10 years of life expectancy smoking takes away.”
What do you think?
Surveys show that about 70% of smokers want to quit. There is much help available, including a lot of free help, to those who want to quit. The CDc’s Office on Smoking and Health more funding for their state tobacco control programs, increasing prices of tobacco products even higher and restricting public smoking to an even greater degree in order to lower the numbers more.
It seems public smoking is practically nonexistent at this point. Should the government regulate public smoking even further? Second-hand smoke is a serious health problem, causing almost 42,000 deaths annually in the United States. Certainly those nonsmokers have the right to keep their health and breathe cleaner air. How should those rights be balanced with the rights of smokers? How far can a free society go in policing the home environment for children? Should there be laws regulating smoking in private homes? Things are clearly heading in the right direction. There are fewer smokers and limited exposure to second-hand smoke. Should public education and encouragement be the only tools used to combat tobacco use?
Help available for quitting
From the CDC: Smokers can get free help quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. There they can get free counseling and information about the seven smoking cessation medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign features real people living with the consequences of smoking-related diseases and offers additional quit resources at http://www.cdc.gov/tips, including cessation assistance developed by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
Facts and Information on Smoking
How to Quit