The US Census Bureau is currently collecting data about tobacco use as a voluntary supplement to its monthly July 2014 Current Population Survey. Scientifically selected households will be questioned about smoking habits regarding cigarettes, tobacco products other than cigarettes and electronic smoking devices.
The tobacco supplement conducted typically every three to four years provides data for people 15 years and older on current and former tobacco products use patterns; restrictions on smoking at home and in the workplace, smoking cessation advice obtained from a clinician; personal attitudes toward smoking; and emerging tobacco control topics.
“You don’t have to be a demographer to know what is going on but I welcome the fact that the survey is being done and encourage D.C. residents to participate,” said Philip Pannell, executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council in southeast Washington. “The Black community is saturated with cigarette advertisements to promote smoking unlike the non-Black areas of the District. For years, I have talked about why more activists have not stepped up to fight this menace.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the US. It causes varied cancers as well as chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis, and heart disease.
- Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths each year, including approximately 49,000 deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women is due to smoking.
- In addition to lung cancer, smoking causes cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.
- People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Smoking also causes most cases of chronic lung disease.
- In 2011, an estimated 19 percent of U.S. adults smoked cigarettes.
- Nearly 16 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes.
The Center for Disease Control data showed the percentage of adults in the District who smoked cigarettes was 20.8 percent in 2011. Across all states and D.C., the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults ranged from 11.8 to 29.0 percent with D.C. ranking 22nd among the states.
On July 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched hard-hitting ads for its 2014 “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign. The Tips national tobacco education campaign, that began in 2012, returns this year with new ad participants living with the devastating effects of smoking-related diseases.
“These new ads are powerful. They highlight illnesses and suffering caused by smoking that people don’t commonly associate with cigarette use,” wrote CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Smokers have told us these ads help them quit by showing what it’s like to live every day with disability and disfigurement from smoking.”
The District also ranks fourth among 44 states with the percentage of youth in grades 9–12 who currently smoke cigarettes which was 12.5 percent, in 2011. To curb teen smoking, the local Department of Health (DOH) encourages teens to join the fight against tobacco use by participating in scheduled National Kick Butts Day activities and programs
“The smoking epidemic begins with youth,” wrote Dr. Saul Levin, interim director DC Department of Health. “Kick-Butts Day is a great opportunity for teens to get the resources they need to make one of the most important decisions of their young lives: to quit smoking or to learn why it’s important to never start,” he added.
Healthy People 2020, a framework for action to reduce tobacco use to the point that it is no longer a public health problem for the nation, identified a number of effective strategies that will contribute to ending the tobacco use epidemic.
Based on more than 45 years of evidence, it is clear that the toll tobacco use takes on families and communities can be significantly reduced by fully funding tobacco control programs, increasing the price of tobacco products, enacting comprehensive smoke-free policies, controlling access to tobacco products, reducing tobacco advertising and promotion, implementing anti-tobacco media campaigns, and encouraging and assisting tobacco users to quit.
The Healthy People 2020 Tobacco Use objectives are organized into three key areas:
- Tobacco Use Prevalence: Implementing policies to reduce tobacco use and initiation among youth and adults.
- Health System Changes: Adopting policies and strategies to increase access, affordability, and use of smoking cessation services and treatments.
- Social and Environmental Changes: Establishing policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, increase the cost of tobacco, restrict tobacco advertising, and reduce illegal sales to minors.
One of DOH’s most effective anti-smoking resources is the District’s toll-free quit line service for District residents who make the decision to quit smoking for good. Residents interested in receiving additional information on the importance of not smoking or tips on how to quit can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW
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