The United States surgeon general says tobacco marketing is a cause of tobacco use. On Jan. 17, the 32nd Report on Smoking and Health was released in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first Smoking and Health report released in January 1964. This report was the first report to the American public that identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer in men. This year's report documents that smoking causes even more disease, kills even more people and costs the nation even more in medical bills and other economic losses than has previously been reported.
In New York, tobacco use remains the leading cause of premature death and disease. Each year, smoking kills 480,000 Americans - causing about one out of every five deaths in the U.S. It costs the nation at least $289 billion in medical bills and lost productivity. If we don't make more progress, 5.6 million children under the age 18 alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease.
All of the deaths, diseases and costs caused by tobacco use are entirely preventable by implementing proven strategies. New York state is a leader in tobacco control with strong clean indoor air laws, the highest tobacco taxes in the nation, smoke-free outdoor laws, youth prevention initiatives and cessation programs that together have led to substantial reductions in smoking rates among adults and youth. However, residents still want and need our help.
It's time to end the tobacco epidemic. New York must continue to work to protect its residents from the deadly marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. Visit www.realitycheckofny.com to find out how you can help make tobacco history. Enough is enough.
SARAH KRAEMER, program coordinator
Reality Check, Catholic Charities of Fulton & Montgomery Counties