Think About It: Tobacco Woe-d - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

May 17, 2018

Think About It: Tobacco Woe-d

As the University of Hawaii system moves to eliminate smoking of any form, including ecigarettes, on all of its campuses, and as more and more data prove that there simply is nothing good that comes from smoking (except a moment of pleausre for the user), one has to wonder why the product is simply not banned everywhere. I understand the enjoyment and ultimately the addiction that far too often results from that buzz, but how different is smoking from other addicting practices, many of which involved substances that are legally banned.


The numbers remain staggering, and ignored. According to the Reuters News service, and using recent health and medical spending surveys, researchers calculated that almost 9% of all healthcare spending, or $170 billion a year, was for illnesses caused by tobacco smoke in 2016, and public programs like Medicare and Medicaid paid for most of these costs. "Fifty years after the first Surgeon General's report, tobacco use remains the nation's leading preventable cause of death and disease, despite declines in adult cigarette smoking prevalence," said Xin Xu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who led the study. Over 18% of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes and about one in five deaths in America are caused by smoking, according to the CDC.


So why don't we simply ban the poisonous and deadly product? I realize we live in a democracy, and sugar, fatty foods, and alcohol also cause medical problems. And I know there will be major economic impact in the tobacco-growing southeast, but we already ban things like heroin and opioids, though that battle is obviously not going well. The CDC states that nearly 40 million US adults still smoke cigarettes, and about 4.7 million middle and high school students use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. Every day, more than 3,800 youth younger than 18 years smoke their first cigarette. Each year, nearly half a million Americans die prematurely of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Another 16 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Enough already. I know, I must be smoking something if I think this is possible. Think about it…

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