Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Education, knowledge, and high taxes reduce smoking....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 8-31-2010

Yesterday we posted on how even heavy drinking if you do it carefully on the average is better for your health than not drinking at all according to a new study and how moderate drinking is much better for you than either.

Smoking is different.

Even though smoking works for some people to relieve stress and depression, virtually every exposure to tobacco smoke harms you.

Smoking even 3 cigarettes a week or occasional exposures longer than two or three minutes to second hand smoke are harmful.

So, if you like for the people around you to be healthy, lower medical care costs, and to stay healthy yourself, the fewer people who smoke and the fewer cigarettes the remaining smokers smoke, the more likely those three things are to happen.

Yesterday, Monday, 8-30-2010, livescience.com had this story.:

“Smoking Rates Linked to Education and Cigarette Taxes”

A new Gallup study of poll data found that states with a bigger percentage of college educated people and those which had higher taxes on cigarettes had fewer smokers.

This study found that an average of 21 % of American adults smoke.

Utah had the fewest smokers, 13 percent; and Kentucky and West Virginia tied for last place at 31 percent.

The South and Midwest states most often had higher percentages of smokers.

In addition to Kentucky & West Virginia, at 31%, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana, South Carolina and Alabama all had at least 25 % of people who smoke.

Besides Utah, states that were under the national average of 21 % were California, Idaho, Montana, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Arizona & Maryland.

Higher rates of smoking were often found in states that had lower percentages of college graduates.

West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma, for example, are all states where fewer than 25 percent of residents have college degrees.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey & the District of Columbia, all areas with higher percentages of college graduates, had some of the lowest rates of smoking.

Cigarette taxes were also associated with low smoking rates.

“In states where smoking was well above average, the average state cigarette tax was $0.66 a pack. In average states, it was $1.59, and in below-average states, it was $2.02.”

(Besides these two factors, low states California, Hawaii, and Minnesota tend to be more health oriented than most. And, besides Utah, low states , Idaho, Montana, & Arizona have more Mormons who usually don’t smoke for religious reasons.)

(The article also said that states with more restrictions on where it is OK to smoke tended to have fewer smokers.)

The third major factor in whether or not people smoke is their specific knowledge of how harmful it is. Few doctors today now smoke for example.

So, what can be done to have fewer smokers and have the smokers smoke less?

1. This polling data and other studies show that higher taxes do work. More people who are willing to try to quit do so and succeed. Fewer people begin smoking in part because when people are young and at the age where they might start smoking, the higher prices and lower incomes they have are more of a deterrent. AND, even the people who don’t want to quit or have been unable to do so, smoke less.

Even better, taxes on tobacco and cigarettes reliably fund the government that collects them; but do NOT slow down the economy as larger sales and income taxes and increased fees tend to do.

If every state brought its state tax on cigarettes up to at least $2.50 a pack and the United States added another $1.50 a pack to its current taxes on cigarettes, they would each be more solvent without slowing their economies. Their health care costs would be much less; and due to their better health, their citizens would be more productive.

2. States that do not yet do so should ban smoking in public places from restaurants and bars and nightclubs to workplaces and on mass transit and in hospitals and government facilities AND within fifty yards of the entrances to any of these.

Smoking in such public places has now been shown to trigger heart attacks that people would otherwise have avoided even in the people affected by the second hand smoke. So, any state that does not do so is ignoring this new information and will have less productive citizens and higher medical care costs because of it.

3. You cannot make fast changes in a State’s percentage of college graduates.

But, you CAN be sure almost all their people know how horribly harmful tobacco smoke actually is AND that every single exposure to tobacco smoke, even one, is harmful.

The number of people who smoke who actually have a clue how horribly harmful tobacco smoke actually is approaches zero.

If that was changed to well over 80 %, the number of people who smoke would drop like a stone. Far more smokers would try to quit. And the number of people who try to quit who succeed would at least quadruple.

What most smokers know now is that some smokers get lung cancer when they are older. But they think they will be one of the smokers who don’t and if they aren’t that would be years from now.

To some extent, particularly for younger smokers, that’s true. Even in the heaviest and most addicted smokers only 25 % of them will get lung cancer.

So, they think of efforts to make them quit as inappropriate and controlling for someone else’s agenda.

But is this accurate in terms of having their health harmed by smoking?

NO! Not by a country mile.

This is like believing that just because some people who light their houses on fire have the fire department show up in time to save the house, that it’s safe and OK to light houses on fire.

The slightly larger problem is that something like 30 % of ALL cancers are caused by smoking or second hand smoke.

Many of these uninformed smokers will die of things like esophageal cancer or prostate or breast or ovarian or colon cancer who would not have gotten them otherwise.

And, that’s STILL just the tip of the iceberg and the little health problems from smoking!

After all that, there’s a LOT more health harm from smoking?!

Yes. And, every single exposure to tobacco smoke causes it.

Here are the big three. NONE of them are the cancers smoking causes; and EVERY smoker and every person they expose to second hand smoke gets some of these every time.

A. The faster you age, the sooner you die; and the worse your health will get before then. Every exposure to tobacco smoke speeds aging.

B. Health protection expert Dr Al Sears has found studies showing that the vitality of your lung function is one of the most powerful and determining factors in how healthy you are. Studies have found that smoking, even in teens just beginning to smoke, ages your lungs and reduces their capacity. (A study found that in smoking teens shown how “old” their lungs tested to be far more tried to quit and far more succeeded in doing so.)

More recently, it has been found that some of this damage is to the genes in your lungs and tends to be permanent even if you quit later. Yikes!

C. Every single exposure to tobacco smoke adds a bit to the thickness of the plaque lining your blood vessels; and exposure to tobacco smoke often causes heart attacks the same people otherwise would have escaped. Smoking increases the small particle LDL that causes this effect. It reduces the HDL that otherwise might have cleaned them off; and it makes the HDL left over less effective!

This causes heart attacks, strokes, vascular dementia, ED and lowered sex response in both sexes, PAD or peripheral artery disease and related foot amputations, and more. And, you get them earlier in your thirties, forties, and fifties. This is unlike nonsmokers, who rarely get these until they are over 65 if at all.

Unlike lung cancer, this one does NOT miss some smokers. If you smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke, every single time, you get a small dose of this.

The only smokers who would continue to smoke if they really know this stuff would be those with a death wish or who are too addicted to care.

And with higher taxes and more restrictions on where people can smoke, even those people would smoke less.

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