Letter: Tobacco deaths outnumber all others

From: Debra Richard


Our daily headlines scream of the epidemics of deadly drug use in our nation. Close your eyes and envision a list of these deadly drugs. Heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, opiates, ecstasy, LSD … the list seems never ending.

In the U.S., heroin claims about 30 users each day from overdoses, or nearly 11,000 people each year. Cocaine overdoses rake in 15 deaths daily, or 5,500 deaths annually. Clearly our society has a ballooning problem with illegal drugs.

Most people don’t think of alcohol as being a drug that kills, but it averages 240 deaths per day, or 88,000 per year. And it’s legal for those 21 and older.

Yet the most lethal of all is tobacco. More than 1,200 people succumb to tobacco use and exposure every day. That’s 443,000 people each year, or one death in every five in the U.S. For every person who dies from a heroin overdose, nearly 40 die from tobacco.

We need to open our eyes and see tobacco for what it really is — a killer drug.

In fact, tobacco kills more Americans annually than AIDS, alcohol, car crashes, homicides, drugs and suicides combined.

  • AIDS, less than 1 percent
  • Homicide, Less than 2 percent.
  • Suicide, 5 percent.
  • Drugs, 6 percent.
  • Alcohol, 12 percent.
  • Motor vehicle accident, 17 percent.
  • Tobacco, 59 percent.

On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers. More than 5.6 million children alive today will ultimately die from smoking. That’s one child in every 13 alive today in the U.S. Let’s stomp out the number-one killer now.

Kicking any drug addiction can be tough, but never impossible. You just have to want to quit. Help is available.

Starting July 6 through Aug. 24, a weekly tobacco cessation class begins at 6 to 8 p.m. at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana, 2626 East 17th St. Free medication assistance is available (Nicotine Replacement Therapy patches or gum), and the $35 class fee includes a workbook and relaxation CD.

Set yourself free of nicotine’s deadly grip by enrolling now at 800-699-1019, or by contacting tobacco awareness coordinator Lynn Ramberg at 812-375-3194 for more information about both community class sessions and onsite business-sponsored classes.

Don’t become one of our deadly statistics.