John Ambrose: Raise Cigarette Taxes

06 May

Smoking Woman

There is absolutely nothing cool about cigarettes. They are deadly.

It is estimated that over 400,000 deaths yearly in the United States are smoking-related. At least one-fourth of all cardiovascular deaths are related to cigarettes. In the 50 years since the Surgeon General`s report in 1964 about the dangers of cigarettes, approximately 11 million American lives have been saved by discontinuing or never starting cigarette use.

Unfortunately, the negative effects are even more outrageous. About 100 million lives were lost in the 20th century from tobacco-related illnesses. Not only are these deaths related to heart disease, but most cancers and chronic lung disease are increased by smoking as well.

As a cardiologist, I see the effects of chronic smoking on a regular basis. Patients come to me with chronic shortness of breath related to cigarettes. In the emergency room, I see patients with an acute heart attack and either their only risk or a significant contributing risk factor is that they are long-term cigarette smokers. This is truly an epidemic and there is no end to it. Furthermore, once you are hooked on cigarettes, quitting long term is extremely difficult.

I have published extensively in peer-reviewed journals on the cause of heart attacks as well as on the relationship between cigarettes and heart disease. Thus, I consider myself qualified to discuss this subject.

What can be done?

While cigarette companies no longer advertise on TV or in print, and a tobacco settlement in 1998 compensated states for some of the medical costs related to smoking-related illnesses and funded anti-smoking advocacy, these efforts fall short.

About 18% of American adults are active smokers, and smoking is increasing in teens and young adults. In California, the prevalence has been lower than the national average; in the Valley, though, rates are higher than in the rest of California. It is a weel known fact that teens prefer to buy flavoured cigarettes such as Captain Black.

The tobacco companies continue to be very resourceful and one of their new targets has been to promote e-cigarette use, which delivers high doses of nicotine and other potentially toxic chemicals in the guise of aromatically flavored vapors. E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA and their use is increasing.

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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Tobacco News



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