Tobacco smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States killing 480,000 people per year.
Among the primary reasons why using cigarettes is harmful to the health is the presence of chemicals in cigarette smoke, many of which are known to be toxic and carcinogenic. Findings of a new study, however, have revealed that many Americans know little about these chemicals.
In a survey of more than 5,000 adults who were at least 18 years old, researchers have found that 27. 5 percent have looked for information on the chemical contents present in tobacco products and smoke.
Of these adults, more than 37 percent were between 18 and 25 years old and 34.3 percent were smokers. Among older participants who were non-smokers, the researchers found that 26 percent have searched for information on the contents of tobacco.
The researchers likewise found that except for nicotine, most of those surveyed were mostly unaware of the constituents in cigarette smoke.
More than half of the respondents, however, expressed interest in seeing relevant information on cigarette packs and 28.7 percent would like this information to be accessible online.
Although the list of chemicals can be found on the FDA website, the researchers said that making the list more available such as placing them on cigarette packs may help lower rates of smoking.
Smoking rate in the U.S. has declined over the past years. Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that smoking in the U.S. dropped from 20.9 percent to 16.8 percent from 2005 to 2014.
The decline could be partly attributed to the government's effort to disseminate information about the dangers of tobacco smoking, which is known to cause a range of unwanted health problems such as cancer and respiratory diseases.
Providing information on the harmful ingredients in tobacco products may potentially place a dent in the smoking rate in the U.S. as hinted by the result of the survey. Majority of Americans want to easily access information about chemicals found in cigarettes and tobacco products.
"By making tobacco chemical information available to the public and tobacco industry practice more transparent, those seeking this information may be less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit because they will be better informed about the toxic chemicals present in tobacco products," said study researcher Marcella Boynton, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The study was published in BMC Public Health on June 23.