From: Debra Richard
To the editor:
Tobacco use is a global epidemic. It continues to have significant implications for our nation’s public and economic health now and into the distant future.
The impact of cigarette smoking and other tobacco use on chronic disease, which accounts for 75 percent of American spending on health care, is well-documented and undeniable. Approximately 2.3 million Americans start using tobacco annually. That’s about 6,400 per day, and 51.4 percent begin before age 18.
In 2012, 69.5 million Americans 12 years and older used tobacco. That’s 26.7 percent of the U.S. population and about 25.6 percent of Hoosiers.
Compare these actual causes of death:
- Tobacco: 37 percent (435,000 deaths)
- Poor diet and physical activity: 35 percent (400,000 deaths)
- Alcohol consumption: 7 percent
- Microbial agents: 6 percent
- Toxic agents: 5 percent
- Motor vehicles: 4 percent
- Firearms: 3 percent
- Suicides: 2 percent
- Sexual behavior: 2 percent
- Illicit drug use: 1 percent
- Fires: 1 percent
Preventable deaths account for 48.2 percent of all U.S. deaths, and tobacco use consistently leads this list.
In dollars and cents, an average pack-a-day smoker spends $5 per day, $1,825 per year and $18,250 over 10 years. Add in lighters, ashtrays, air fresheners and burns to clothes, furnishings and auto interiors, then calculate lost income from sick days for the smoker and family members exposed to secondhand smoke. Then tally doctor visits, medication costs, hospitalizations, higher health and life insurance rates, and chronic disability costs.
All those dollars go up in smoke (or spit away if smokeless tobacco is used). The real costs of tobacco don’t end here. The worry, anticipation of “What if?” regrets, lost time — the list is endless.
If you or a loved one needs help to kick a nicotine addiction, please call 812-379-4927 to learn more about a cessation class beginning at 6 p.m. April 9. Bartholomew County residents may qualify for free cessation medications.
Can’t make a class? The Indiana Tobacco Quitline is available with free assistance at 800-784-8669 or www.indianaquitline.net
Don’t wait another moment. Don’t spend another day in the clutches of tobacco. You don’t have to be a tobacco statistic.