Smoking Is Likely Worse Than You Think

Selected by Pietro Cazzola

SmokingCigarette smoking causes nearly 450,000 premature deaths every year and is the leading cause of premature mortality and morbidity in the United States. The 2014 Surgeon General’s Report causally relates over a dozen types of cancer to cigarette smoking, and reports that smoking causes over a million deaths globally each year.
A recent report indicates that health indices may underestimate the harm of cigarette smoking.1 Further, the number of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) attributable to cigarettes is likely an underestimation. Smoking was previously estimated to cause 12.7 million cases of major medical conditions, while the latest estimates suggest that this number may actually exceed 14 million. COPD is 3.78-times more common in smoking vs nonsmoking females and 4-times more common in male smokers vs nonsmokers.
It has been said that if one wants to predict the public health crisis 5 years from now, figure out what the tobacco companies are marketing now. Indeed, tobacco companies are diversifying considerably and now offer more than cigarettes. For example, all of the major smokeless tobacco companies in the United States are owned by cigarette companies, and almost all e-cigarette companies are owned by cigarette smoking giants such as Altria (formerly Philip Morris) and R. J. Reynolds. Instead of substituting (probably) safer products, smokers are now simultaneously using multiple tobacco products. The bottom line is that physicians and healthcare providers should be extremely aggressive in encouraging their patients to quit all forms of tobacco – not just cigarettes – as their lives may very well depend on it.