The reasons not to smoke keep piling up.
It is a terribly expensive habit, and smokers in many states (not Missouri) pay an awful high tax that nonsmokers don’t for the “privilege” of lighting up. This also is a miserable time of the year for smokers.
Many nonsmoking laws and buildings with smoking bans force people who have to puff to do so outside regardless of how cold or how bad the weather might be. And the health hazards from smoking continue to stare like the grim reaper into the faces of people who have to have cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco products.
A new study funded by the American Cancer Society and chronicled in The New England Journal of Medicine adds at least five diseases and 60,000 deaths a year to the human harvest taken by smoking in the United States. Tobacco products already account for 500,000 deaths annually from 21 diseases, including 12 types of cancers, The New York Times reports.
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The study is from data on close to 1 million people who were tracked for 10 years. Well-established problems from smoking include lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, artery disease and chronic lung disease.
But the new study also notes risks of infection, kidney disease, heart and lung ailments that hadn’t been linked to tobacco products and intestinal disease caused by poor blood flow.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 42.1 million, or 18 percent, of all all adult Americans smoke. More than 20 percent are men and 14.5 percent are women. Death rates are two to three times higher for smokers than people who never smoked, and on average smokers die more than a decade before nonsmokers.
Lung cancer is more than 20 times more likely to claim the lives of smokers than nonsmokers. There also is no equality in smoking. Low-income people are more likely to smoke than people in higher income brackets.
Every day, more than 3,200 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette. Tobacco use costs the U.S. more than $289 billion annually, including at least $133 billion in direct medical costs for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.
Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17 cents a pack. That encourages smoking. More than 22 percent of adults in the state are smokers, which is higher than the national average.
That tax needs to be at least five times higher to make the cost of smoking prohibitive and help save lives.