Understanding The Damage Caused By Tobacco Use
This year, the theme of World No Tobacco Day is “Tobacco – A Threat To Development”, and the WHO campaign will be dedicated to showing the massive negative impact that tobacco use has in developing countries.
But tobacco isn’t just a threat to public health in lower-income nations. Though smoking rates have been falling dramatically over the last several decades in the US, tobacco use still remains a huge public health issue.
In 2005, around 20% of all adults smoked. In 2015, that number had been reduced to only 15%. Despite this, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the US, and can cause dozens of harmful health issues.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 statistics that show the dangers of tobacco use, so that you can be better informed about the damage that tobacco causes among Americans.
- Smoking Is The #1 Cause Of Preventable Death In The US
Smoking causes more deaths than any other preventable disease in the US – smoking-related diseases caused approximately 1 in 5 preventable deaths.
These deaths aren’t just limited to smokers, either. The CDC estimates that around 480,000 smokers die from smoking-related diseases each year, and that 41,000 people die from the effects of secondhand smoke.
This is because smoking causes such a wide variety of negative health effects. Smoking increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and other lung conditions like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, among dozens of others.
- Smoking-Related Illnesses Cost Americans $170 Billion Per Year In Medical Costs
Smoking-related illnesses are extremely costly to the American healthcare system, costing us around $170 billion per year in direct medical care, and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.
For comparison, obesity costs Americans approximately $147 billion per year, and direct medical costs for cancer treatments were estimated at around $87.8 billion in 2014. Diabetes is the only other condition that comes close, clocking in at around $175 billion per year in treatment costs, but only $69 billion in lost productivity.
Because of these high costs, even a small reduction in smoking could have a huge effect on the healthcare system. A study in PLoS Med estimated that a 10% reduction in smoking would save an average of $6.3 billion in healthcare expenditures during the following year.
- Mortality Rates For Smokers Are 3x Higher Than Nonsmokers
All-cause mortality for smokers is dramatically higher than that of nonsmokers. Cancer, respiratory diseases, and vascular diseases are the primary causes of this increase in mortality risk.
Disease-specific numbers are even more shocking. Men who smoke have a 23x higher chance of dying from lung cancer, and a 17x higher chance of dying from emphysema or bronchitis.
Women who smoke also have a 12x higher risk of developing lung cancer and lung disease. In fact, lung cancers have overtaken breast cancer as the most common type of cancer among women – deaths from lung cancer increased over 500% from 1960-1990.
- Smoking Is The Cause Of 80-90% Of All Lung Cancer Cases In The US
Smoking is the single largest risk factor related to lung cancer in the US. In the US, around 220,000 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed every year. Smoking and secondhand smoke are the cause of 80-90% of all of these cases.
For comparison, radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer, but is only responsible for about 20,000 cases of lung cancer per year.
And while other materials like asbestos, arsenic, certain types of exhaust, and some rare metals can increase the risk of lung cancer, these cases are extremely rare in comparison.
- Smokers Who Quit Before The Age Of 40 Are 90% Less Likely To Die From A Smoking-Related Disease
While smoking is certainly dangerous, not every statistic here is meant to scare you – especially if you are a smoker. This statistic should be very encouraging indeed.
Smokers who quit before the age of 40 are very likely to be able to live a full, active life without having to worry about smoking-related diseases. Our bodies are very resilient – and even if you’ve smoked for a long time, your body will slowly be able to recover from the damage that has been caused by smoking.
And even if you’re over the age of 40, smoking cessation has a variety of health benefits. After a year of not smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically, as does your risk of developing a chronic lung condition. And after 5-10 years, your risk of stroke and lung cancer will be reduced by over 50%.
Whether you’re 20, 30, 40, or older, one thing is clear – the sooner you stop smoking, the sooner your body will be able to recover, and you’ll be far more likely to live a long, happy life.
Spread The Word About The Harmful Effects Of Smoking – Save A Life!
Whether you’re a smoker, know a nurse who smokes, or you have friends and family who regularly use tobacco, you should share what you’ve learned.
Smoking is one of the single most harmful things you can do to your body, and quitting should be the #1 priority for anyone who is still using tobacco.
So share these facts with those around you, and help spread the word. And if you’re interested in organizing an event at your hospital, check out the World No Tobacco Day Website, and see how you can get involved in this important event.