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New Study Warns: Tobacco Kills Two Out Of Three Smokers
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Cigarette image © kotoyamagami – fotolia.com (under license)
We’ve all heard the blip “smoking is bad for your health”, but how bad is bad? Here’s a hard fact for you: A new study conducted in Australia in 2015 found that two thirds of smokers die from a smoking-related disease – and these numbers aren’t far off from statistics in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimate 480,000 deaths each year to be attributed to smoking and second hand smoke. 
Infographic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Image sources – see foot of page
How Smoking Kills You
When you light a cigarette and inhale the smoke into your lungs, the smoke contains free radicals and toxic chemicals that become introduced into the bloodstream. Nicotine, for one, damages the delicate walls of our blood vessels, making them prone to damage, inflammation, and plaque formation. This is one of the biggest risks you take when smoking – cardiovascular disease. Cigarette smoking directly increases cases of stroke, heart attacks, and even aneurysm. “Passive smoking” – breathing air contaminated by the smoke stream directly from a cigarette – is even more dangerous because this type of smoke is completely unfiltered. 
About The Australian Study
In response to the dangerous statistics in regards to smoking-related morbidity and mortality, the 2015 Australian study involved approximately 200,000 respondents, followed over the next five years. The population included 7.7 percent current smokers and 34.1 percent past smokers. Hazard ratios and extraneous factors were also considered during the course of the study. The follow-up revealed, or rather, affirmed what everyone has known to be true – smoking kills. There were 5,500 deaths that occurred within the next five years. With increasing smoking intensity or frequency, mortality increased – two-fold for smokers of 14 cigarettes or less per day and four-fold for smokers of 25 cigarettes or more. The study concluded that smokers were estimated to die ten years earlier compared to non-smokers. 
The only good news was that the risk for mortality and morbidity of past smokers (those who quit before hitting 45 years old) and non-smokers were not statistically different – meaning the earlier you quit, the happier your body will be! In fact, the CDC reports that quitting before the age of 40 drastically reduces your risk of dying from a smoking-related disease by as much as 90 percent. 
The Smoking Economy
Another important thing to remember is that companies ultimately only produce cigarettes if there is a high enough demand for them – which clearly there is. According to the CDC, tobacco companies spent, astonishingly, almost 10 billion dollars in marketing cigarettes and other similar products in the US alone back in 2012. When you do that math, that’s roughly 26 million each day and a million every hour. While the production of tobacco has greatly declined since the 1980s, the US remains the top producer of tobacco leaves in the world, closely followed by China, India, and Brazil. 
So how does this translate into the amount of money we spend on smoking-related health troubles? Smoking-related morbidities are estimated to cost more than a staggering 300 billion dollars each year – 170 billion of which is direct medical care and 156 billion in productivity loss. Can you imagine the difference between how much money companies make off of consumers and what they spend just to keep healthy? Beyond the money spent on doctors and trips to the hospital, should we be more worried that we are giving these companies money? Or that we are paying them with our very lives? 
 Banks, E., et. al. (2015). Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-015-0281-z
 Centers for Disease Control. Tobacco-related Mortality. https://cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/
 Ambrose, J. & Barua, R. (2004). The pathophysiology of cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease: An update. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109704004346
 CDC. Economic Facts About US Tobacco Production and Use. https://cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/
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Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
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