Why Are So Many People Still Smoking?

BlogHer Original Post

portrait of a young woman smoking a cigarette

Health officials reported this week that U.S. smoking rates are not going down, and that one if five adults are still smoking regularly.  I find this news so disappointing, especially considering that smoking is the number one cause of "preventable" deaths in this country.  What are people thinking?

U.S. smoking rates continue to hold steady:

"It's tragic," said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, who calls smoking the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States. He estimates that smoking kills 1,000 Americans a day.

Some experts were particularly disheartened by a CDC finding in a second report that nearly all children who live with a smoker — 98 percent — have measurable tobacco toxins in their body.

The first thing I thought about when I read these latest statistics was -- In such a bad economy, why are people still wasting their money on a product that can actually kill them?  I know it's an addiction and it's not easy to quit, but there are so many products out there to help make quitting easier. Why aren't more smokers trying to quit?

Here is a tool that can show you how much smoking is costing you:

Calculate the Cost of Smoking

It's not just the cost of cigarettes that burden the wallets of smokers.

From MSN - The High Cost of Smoking:

If the threat of cancer can't persuade you to quit smoking, maybe the prospect of poverty will.

The financial consequences of lighting up stretch far beyond the cost of a pack of cigarettes. Smokers pay more for insurance. They lose money on the resale value of their cars and homes. They spend extra on dry cleaning and teeth cleaning. Long term, they earn less and receive less in pension and Social Security benefits.

I'm wondering if the healthcare crisis could be affecting the ability for uninsured and under-insured smokers to access quality methods for quitting?

From Kaiser Health News -- Medicare smoking prevention program:

A Medicare program that has agreed to pay for counseling for seniors who smoke but are not yet sick could help the program, and America's health system, lower costs. "Smoking costs the U.S. economy $97 billion annually in lost productivity, in addition to the $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, according to [the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services]. Counseling coupled with smoking prevention drugs and devices are among the most cost-effective interventions in the disease prevention arsenal."

Meanwhile, guess who's raking in billions at the expense of the health and lives of the American people?  Yes, the tobacco industry.

From The American Cancer Society - How does tobacco use affect the economy?

The tobacco industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the country, making billions of dollars every year. But the costs of smoking are far higher than the income from cigarette sales.

From 10 Things You Don't Know About Smoking:

Tobacco smoke is a poisonous cocktail of over 4,000 chemicals. 50 of which are known to be cancer causing.  Here is a list of just some of the chemicals contained in a cigarette that you may recognize.

Are you a smoker who wants to quit?  The American Cancer Society's Choose You campaign has some great resources that can help you quit smoking:

We all know why it's so important to quit smoking: it causes one in 5 deaths in the United States, and myriad health problems. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier to stop. If you're like a lot of smokers, you've even experienced several false starts—leaving you demoralized.

Make a Choose You commitment now—and we'll help you stop smoking for good. We'll get you started with informative articles and useful tools like our Quit for Life program. Then we'll provide the support you need to stick to your goals, and finally kick that habit.

What do you think about the latest statistics on smoking?  Are you surprised that more people aren't quitting?  Do you think the government should be taking more steps to help reduce smoking?  Let us know what you think in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.