CDC Survey: U.S. Adults Smoking Less
By Dr. James Palermo // June 21, 2013
THE 'COSTLY KILLER' HABIT DOWN TO RATE OF 18%
ABOVE VIDEO: The Associated Press reports on last year’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) $54 million ad campaign focused on shocking smokers into quitting and preventing teens from starting through close-up, very candid profiles of people who experienced devastating complications from smoking. CDC officials attribute an increase of 200,000 calls to quit lines to the campaign, and estimate that thousands of smokers probably went on to kick the habit.
One of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of my 22-years of surgically treating patients with smoking related diseases, such as atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease and lung cancer, was managing their smoking habit and nicotine addiction and convincing, and in many cases cajoling, them to quit. Unfortunately, it frequently took a medical disaster and the consequences of surgery before they finally “got it.”
SMOKING: THE COSTLY KILLER
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States, with cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke causing 443,000—or 1 in 5 deaths.
The economic losses are also staggering. Smoking related diseases result in $96 billion in health care costs annually, and compared to nonsmokers, average healthcare costs are $1,300 higher for smokers.
ADULT SMOKING RATE DOWN TO 18 PERCENT
Primarily as a result of the ubiquitous message that smoking is harmful and can be addictive, there was a dramatic decrease in smoking in the U.S. over the past half-century. However, the rate of smoking among U.S. adults between 2003 and 2010 stalled at about 20 percent and decreased slightly down to 19 percent in 2011.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported on Tuesday that the 2012 adult smoking rate had declined further to 18 percent based on a survey of about 35,000 U.S. adults. Current smokers were identified as those who said they had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and now smoke every day or some days.
CDC officials said they are still analyzing the findings and are unsure about what specifically may have caused the decline.
MULTIPLE FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO THE DECLINE
In an interview with the Associated Press, Patrick Reynolds, Executive Director of the Foundation for a Smoke Free America, said the findings are “proof that we are winning the battle against tobacco,” and added that increasing tobacco taxes, prevention and cessation programs, and public smoking bans likely contributed to the decline.
A very aggressive and compelling CDC multimedia tobacco education campaign, which portrayed former chronic smokers dealing with the often-dreadful consequences of their disease and treatment, seems to have had a significant impact on viewers and may have played a key role in the lower 2012 rate.
The $54 million campaign, which was the subject of a SpaceCoastDaily.com feature in April of 2012, was responsible for an increase of 200,000 calls to quit lines, and CDC officials estimated that thousands of smokers probably went on to kick the habit. The second wave of public service announcements were released by the CDC earlier this year at a cost of $48 million.
PROMISING PROGRESS IN ALL DEMOGRAPHICS
Breaking down the data, the rate was only 9 percent for survey participants ages 65 and older, but about 20 percent for younger adults. More men than women described themselves as current smokers.
Teens were not included in this survey, but, according to the results of an annual survey released late last year of thousands of students in the eighth, tenth and twelfth grades, fewer teens are smoking cigarettes than ever before. Just 10.6 percent of respondents said they had smoked a cigarette at some point over the previous 30 days, which was down by over a percentage point from the year before.
The current trend of less smoking appears to be carrying over to the younger demographic and suggests that the public campaign against tobacco use has made significant progress—particularly since most lifelong smokers first pick up the habit in their teenage years.
SUSTAINED, AGGRESSIVE ANTI-SMOKING EFFORTS IMPERATIVE
The American Medical Association recently designated obesity as a “disease state” based on the fact that it is a costly condition that can reduce quality of life and increases the risk for many serious chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, all of which are leading causes of premature and preventable death. There are a myriad of causes for obesity, but most cases boil down to poor diet, addictive eating behavior and lifestyle choices.
Smoking has not been designated a “disease state,” but, very much like obesity, it involves a costly behavior, addictive in nature, that can reduce quality of life and increase the risk of many serious chronic diseases including heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and several types of cancer.
It is encouraging that the adult smoking rate in America is down to 18 percent and fewer teens are smoking, however we must continue to aggressively support anti-smoking policy and provide pervasive education on smoking as the devastating “costly killer” it is. We cannot let our guard down when the tobacco industry still spends $8.5 billion a year, nearly $1 million every hour, to market its deadly and addictive products.