New York State – and much of the nation – has made tremendous strides in reducing smoking rates. In the mid-1960s, nearly half of Americans smoked; today it’s roughly half that nationwide and lower still in New York.
The successes have come as the result of scientific findings that have linked smoking to lung cancer and other health problems. Those scientific breakthroughs also identified the health risks faced by nonsmokers who were exposed to second hand smoke from tobacco products.
Tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans every year and costs the country about $100 billion in health care bills. Despite successes in curbing tobacco use over the past four decades, it still is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
New York State’s efforts to reduce smoking have had a tremendous impact. Between 2003 and 2010, the adult smoking rate in New York fell by 28 percent. During that time, the nation’s smoking rate slipped only 11 percent. New York high school students’ smoking rate dropped an incredible 38 percent, more than twice the nation’s decline.
A federal appeals court ruled last week that tobacco companies are not required to comply with the implementation of new graphic warning labels on cigarette packs, arguing that the law violated corporate free speech rights. These warnings are required by the federal government and are supposed to go into effect next month.
New York receives a decent, but mixed, review for its legislative work to combat cancer, according to a new report, How Do You Measure up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality (www.acscan.org) issued by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.
A new report from the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contains good news and bad news about smoking in America. First the good news, according to the CDC, total cigarette consumption continued an 11-year downward trend with a 2.5 percent decline from 2010 to 2011.
Smoking remains the number one cause of preventable deaths in the US. Last year, nearly half a million people died of smoking-related illnesses like emphysema and lung cancer. That’s nearly one of every five deaths, a number that is greater than the number of deaths caused by AIDS, drug and alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking also costs American taxpayers and businesses over $150 billion a year in terms of health care and lost productivity – that’s approximately $7 for every pack of cigarettes sold.
Despite the ever-shrinking number of smokers, cigarette use is still a top public health priority. And despite the incredible gains that have been made, the carnage caused by smoking still takes an enormous physical and financial toll.
Into this debate comes a product that advertises itself as a way for smokers to reduce the harm caused by cigarette use and a way for smokers to comply with smoking bans in work and public places.
That product is the “electronic cigarette” or e-cigarette.