The most common type of health issue related to smoking is lung cancer. However, studies now say smokingis causing more extensive health problems. In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause problems that include erectile dysfunction, tuberculosis, ectopic pregnancy, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis. The U.S. government report also states smoking can lead to blindness, liver cancer and diabetes. Dr. Judith Fradkin, a diabetes scientist, states evidence of smoking causing Type 2 diabetes has been ongoing for the past 20 years. Surgeon General’s Boris Lushniak brings attention to recent smoking statistics for the U.S.
About 18 percent of Americans smoke compared to 42 percent 50 years ago. But Lushniak warns that “modern cigarettes are more potent and dangerous than ever.”
Though the smoking rate in the U.S. has declined, the probability of former smokers developing an illness is at an all-time high. Smoking is the biggest cause of premature deaths in the U.S., affecting more than 20 million people. People who do not smoke are not exempt from the statistics. the U.S. government report says that non-smokers have an increased risk of stroke from second-hand smoke. “More than 20 million people in the United States have died from smoking related diseases and illnesses caused by second-hand smoke.” The CDC says approximately 443,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related illnesses.
Not only have reports shown that smoking can cost a person’s health, but also the medical expenses for smokers are pricey. The medical expenses directly associated with smokers cost about $130 billion per year, with an additional $150 billion a year in productivity loss from premature deaths. The government report blames the tobacco industry for misleading the public about the dangers of smoking. The nicotine itself contains more than 7,000 compounds which causes smoke-related diseases and illnesses.
Despite recent studies that smoking is causing more extensive health problems, experts have noticed more smokers are turning to e-cigarettes and ditching the traditional butts. But health officials have warned smokers of the nicotine which is still found in e-cigarettes. Previous Surgeon General reports have stated that nicotine is addictive and damages every organ in the human body. Director of CDC Dr. Thomas Frieden said that if no action is taken to lower the percentage of smokers, 5.6 million children will be killed from tobacco.
With the rising trend of e-cigarettes, most major cities are beginning to ban e-cigarette smoking in public facilities. For example, the Chicago City Council recently moved to ban e-cigarette smoking from most indoor public places. If a person decides to smoke an e-cigarette in public, he or she must be at least 15 feet away from the entrance of a building. While four City Council members voted against the proposed e-cigarette ban, 45 other members were for it. The majority of the City Council’s Health and Finance Committee members voted in favor of stores selling e-cigarettes only behind the counter.
Recent studies say smoking is causing more extensive health problems besides lung cancer. To address the problems caused by smoking, the Surgeon General suggests there should be anti-smoking measures to prevent smoking. A few suggestions include increasing the price of cigarettes and raising the legal age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21.
By Bridget Cunningham