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Report: Smoking worse than initially thought

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It was fifty years ago that Alabama native Luther Terry issued the landmark Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and its health consequences. Fifty years later, smoking still is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in America. 

A new report, The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress, finds if current smoking rates continue, 108,000 Alabama children living today will die prematurely because of smoking. The report finds smoking kills more than 7,500 adults over age 35 in Alabama each year, and costs the state nearly $5.6 billion in medical care costs and productivity losses.
 
“These numbers are alarming,” said State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson. “But the effects of tobacco use are entirely preventable. If we can pass smoke free protections for everyone, increase the price of tobacco, and fully fund tobacco prevention programs, more people will quit and more children will never start. We need to reduce tobacco consumption in pregnancy, a factor associated with higher infant mortality."

Alabama has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation, with nearly one in four adults and more than 19 percent of high-school youth who are smokers.

Smoking has killed 20 million Americans in just the last 50 years. The new report updates estimates on the human and financial tolls of the cigarette smoking epidemic, finding that it kills close to half a million Americans a year and costs more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and economic loss.

The report also links smoking to diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer.
 
 
In Alabama, smokers can get free help by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visiting www.alabamaquitnow.com. 
 
 
 

Teresa Whitaker

In addition to co-anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights, Teresa serves as the Healthwatch reporter for WRBL. More>>

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