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New report on smoking alarming

To the Editor:

5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely from smoking related diseases unless smoking rates drop, says the latest Surgeon General’s Report. In NY, that’s 280,000 children who will have their lives cut short because of tobacco. This is just one of the startling statistics highlighted in the latest report entitled “Smoking and Health: 50 Years of Progress.”

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco Use which concluded that tobacco smoke was directly linked to lung cancer in men. Since then 32 subsequent reports have linked smoking to diseases which affect every organ of the body. The latest report highlights new connections between smoking and diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer. Perhaps more alarming is the now documented connection between second hand smoke and a higher risk for stroke.

“Enough is enough,” this was the sentiment expressed by the Surgeon General at the Press Conference announcing the latest report. As public health professionals, and representatives of the North Country Tobacco Cessation Center (NCTCC) and the Adirondack Tobacco Free Network, this is a sentiment we would like to echo.

Enough is enough. According to the CDC, In NY State 25,000 people die every year from diseases caused by tobacco use. Diseases caused by smoking cost our healthcare system in NY eight billion dollars a year, much of which is paid for by the taxpayers of New York. It is estimated each household in NY pays $883 a year for smoking-caused government expenditures. We don’t believe that New Yorkers want to continue losing loved ones to tobacco, nor do they want to carry the financial burden of the added healthcare costs that stem from tobacco use.

Enough is enough. Each day, more than 3,200 youth (younger than 18 years of age) smoke their first cigarette and another 2,100 youth and young adults who are occasional smokers progress to become daily smokers. Tobacco industries enlist retailers (their most important marketing partner) to display their products in highly visible areas where youth will see them every time they shop. The Surgeon General reports that tobacco advertising at the point of sale is directly linked to the initiation of youth tobacco use. The CDC reports that 18.1% of youth in the U.S continue to smoke. Tobacco products need to be made less desirable, affordable and acceptable to help reduce youth tobacco rates.

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