Tobacco has been in the news for a few months now, with the FDA releasing its new cigarette labels to big tobacco suing the FDA. Many people have seen the commercials and know that tobacco kills but choose to smoke anyways, so why all the fuss?
Is it money? Probably, according to CNN Money Fortune 500 ranks Phillip Morris International at 94 out of 500 companies with a profit in 2010 of 6.3 million dollars and 25 million in revenue. Phillip Morris International is down in rank from 93 in 2009, and saw a decrease in both revenue and profits. Altria Group is ranked 137 out of 500 with a profit of 3.2 million dollars and 16.8 million dollars in revenue. Altria Group is up in rank from 160 in 2009, they saw an increase in revenues but a decrease in profit. Reynolds America is ranked 272 out of 500 companies with a profit of 962 million dollars and revenues of 8.4 million dollars. Reynolds America is up in rank from 294 but saw a decrease in both revenue and profits.
The facts show that there is big money in big tobacco, and the suit against the FDA may not outright state money is the reason but money is always a factor. The FDA’s standpoint comes from the fact that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death of Americans. Nearly 440,000 Americans die each year from tobacco, with 1 out of every 5 deaths in the US a direct result of smoking. In NY state alone smoking kills 25,500, with an estimated 2,500 dying from secondhand smoke. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states “smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, causes many diseases and compromises smoker’s health in general.” In NYS it is estimated that 570,000 people have a serious disease that can be directly related to smoking. The proposed cigarette labels, to be fully instituted by fall 2012, have the goal of encouraging smokers to quit as more than 96 billion dollars of US health care cost a year are spent on tobacco related illnesses. It is estimated that 97 billion dollars a year is spent on lost productivity due to smoking effects, which means that burden economically is 193 billion dollars a year.
Many people have a hard time believing that tobacco has in it an addictive drug similar to cocaine or heroin. Nicotine, which is the addictive ingredient in tobacco, is one of the most widely abused drugs in the US. In a report from the US Department of Health it states:
According to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 70.9 million Americans aged 12 or older reported current use of tobacco – 60.1 million (24.2 percent of the population) were current cigarette smokers, 13.3 million (5.4 percent) smoked cigars, 8.1 million (3.2 percent) used smokeless tobacco, and 2 million (0.8 percent) smoked pipes, confirming that tobacco is one of the most widely abused substances in the United States.
Many can recognize nicotine as the addictive drug but there are more than 4,000 chemicals in one cigarette, with at least 51 chemicals known to cause cancer. Click here for the most common things in a cigarette. You might be surprised.
So the back to that fuss is it ever going to die down. This examiner thinks not. The fuss began in the 90’s when several states sued big tobacco. Its been constant because the states want money, big tobacco wants money and so too does the government. Big surprise right, not really. The fuss seems to be who gets the money not really that tobacco is addictive and the leading cause of preventable death in the US.
There is a local tobacco cessation center in Buffalo at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Kimberly Bank is the contact person and can be reached by email or phone at 716-845-8255. People wanting to quit may also call the NYS Smokers Quit Line at 1-866-697-8487 or check out their website.
If you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol in the Western NY areas please click your county for a list of treatment providers Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua. If you need immediate help call crisis services at 716-834-3131.
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