Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 04 Smoking Lung 180 100

On 2015 World No Tobacco Day, will we know how many the drug really kills?

April 27, 2015
New research suggests that tobacco is responsible for far more than the diseases currently linked to it. This article includes several patient-education resources. From Maria Perno-Goldie, RDH, MS.

It is well-known that tobacco use causes major morbidity and mortality. People who smoke die at a rate 2 to 3 times higher than those who have never smoked. (1) In fact, the life expectancy of smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of never-smokers, but stopping before the age of 40 years reduces the risk of death connected with continual smoking by about 90%. (2) A new study purports that the rates may even be higher than predicted, and that smoking in particular may cause a multitude of other diseases not currently linked to tobacco use. (1) This article will review recent findings in the area of tobacco use, policies, and regulations.

READ MORE | Never too late: The newest in tobacco cessation

A recently published study funded by the American Cancer Society states that “a substantial portion of the excess mortality among current smokers between 2000 and 2011 was due to associations with diseases that have not been formally established as caused by smoking.” (1) Diseases that have been established as caused by smoking are cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and others. The study included 421,378 men and 532,651 women 55 years of age or older. (1) The study authors discuss the need for professionals to talk about tobacco cessation with patients, and urge government representatives to pass laws and regulations that support cessation programs, and to provide the resources to enforce them. Professionals and beaurucrats need to expend more energy and strength to curb the efforts of the tobacco industry, whose goal is to addict young smokers and insure that those already smoking continue to do so.

Things that might help increase cessation rates and decrease start rates might include higher cigarette prices, increased taxes, restrictions on smoking in public places, bans on tobacco advertising promotion, public education about smoking dangers and tobacco cessation benefits. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) was asked by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make recommendations to improve ways to create and affect tobacco policy and laws. The IOM created the Committee on the Assessment of Agent-Based Models to Inform Tobacco Product Regulationto provide the answers to the FDA’s questions. “Assessing the Use of Agent-Based Models for Tobacco Regulation” was the result of the inquiries and research of the IOM. (3) The document discusses the role of behavior changes in tobacco cessation, and the social components of tobacco use. (3) A thorough and complicated report, it encourages an evidence-based approach in regard to tobacco and related policies, taking into account the disciplines of “epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, biology, chemistry, and others.” (3)READ MORE |Oral Cancer Awareness Month and tobacco update As National Women’s Health Week is approaching, it might be wise to view some resources specific to women and
tobacco cessation.

Let’s help make every day a “no tobacco” day!

1. Carter BD, Abnet CC, Feskanich D, et al. Smoking and mortality—Beyond established causes. N Engl J Med. 2015;372:631-40. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa1407211.
2. Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, et al. 21st-century hazards of smoking and benefits of cessation in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2013; 368:341-50. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa1211128.
3. Wallace R, Geller A, Ogawa VA (eds); Committee on the Assessment of Agent-Based Models to Inform Tobacco Product Regulation; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Institute of Medicine. Assessing the Use of Agent-Based Models for Tobacco Regulation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. In press.

Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, is the editorial director of RDH eVillage FOCUS.