February 12, 2014

In My Opinion: Everyone must commit to end smoking

Smoking-related illnesses will cause 5.6 million children alive today to die prematurely unless smoking rates drop, the latest Surgeon General’s Report says.

In New York, that’s 280,000 children.

This is just one of the startling statistics highlighted in “Smoking and Health: 50 Years of Progress.”

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco Use, which concluded that tobacco smoke was directly linked to lung cancer in men.

Since then, 32 subsequent reports have linked smoking to diseases that affect every organ of the body.

The latest report highlights new connections between smoking and diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer. Perhaps more alarming is the now-documented connection between second-hand smoke and a higher risk for stroke.

“Enough is enough,” was the sentiment expressed by the surgeon general at the press conference announcing the latest report.

As public-health professionals and representatives of the North Country Tobacco Cessation Center and the Adirondack Tobacco Free Network, this is a sentiment we would like to echo.

Enough is enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 25,000 people die every year in New York from diseases caused by tobacco use. Diseases caused by smoking cost the health-care system in this state $8 billion a year, much of which is paid for by the taxpayers.

It is estimated each household in New York pays $883 a year for smoking-caused government expenditures.

We don’t believe that New Yorkers want to continue losing loved ones to tobacco, nor do they want to carry the financial burden of the added health-care costs that stem from tobacco use.

Each day, more than 3,200 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and another 2,100 youths and young adults who are occasional smokers progress to become daily smokers.

Tobacco industries enlist retailers — their most important marketing partner — to display their products in highly visible areas where youths will see them every time they shop.

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