Tobacco use is the major cause of preventable and premature death and disease worldwide, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that 46 million Americans age 18 years and older smoke cigarettes, 443,000 smoking-related deaths occur annually in the U.S. Smoking affects the population, causes premature deaths and is a substantial financial burden to society.
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Smoking affects the population in many ways. It affects smokers' health and controls their smoking habits and use of time, and the spiraling cost of tobacco makes it an expensive pastime. Secondhand smoke affects others and pollutes the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children are susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are growing and developing. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have increased risks of sudden infant death syndrome, middle ear infection, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.
Annually, one of every five deaths in the U.S. is related to smoking, due to conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer and emphysema, according to the CDC website. Smoking may affect sexual performance and increase the risks of heart disease and infections. Deaths attributed to smoking varied from state to state during the years 2000 to 2004, with Alaska reporting 492 deaths and California reporting 36,687 deaths, notes the CDC. The good news is, according to a report from the CDC, some states show signs of improved health of their citizens and a decrease in smoking rates, deaths and health care costs due to increased awareness, education and resources available to help people fight the smoking habit.
Smoking puts a financial burden on society. According to the CDC, this burden continues to rise, with approximately $193 billion spent annually in the United States—$97 billion from lost productivity and $96 billion due to smoking-related health care costs, respectively. The Society of Actuaries reported in 2006, which is the latest data available, that secondhand smoke costs the U.S. around $10 billion a year: about $5 billion in medical costs associated with secondhand smoke and $4.6 billion in lost wages—youth exposure was not included in these costs.