Cigarettes Account For About 30 Percent Of Cancer Deaths In The US


A new study by the American Cancer Society is blaming cigarette smoking as the cause of around 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States. The study, which was published online at JAMA Internal Medicine, included American adults with ages 35 years above.

The research estimated that at least 167,133 cancer deaths in 2014 can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Based on recorded cases, the mortality rate is higher in men, averaging 30 percent across all states except in Utah. There is a smaller proportion for women, which posted an average death rate of 20 percent.

Smoking-Related Cancer Deaths In Different States

The study cited Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky as disproportionately affected. Each of these states nearly has 40 percent smoking-related cancer deaths. Also, in the top 10 worst states, nine are from the South, which prompted the researchers to conclude that the crisis seems particularly critical in the region.

The study noted that this variable can be explained by the fact that smoking is historically more prevalent in Southern states and further aggravated by cheap cigarette price and weak regulatory policy.

What is also troubling about the study is that the cancer deaths only involved 12 categories that the U.S. Surgeon General has directly linked to smoking. These include cancer of the bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney and ureter, larynx, leukemia, liver, oropharynx, pancreas, stomach, trachea and bronchus.

There are also other types of cancers that are blamed on smoking such as cancer of the mouth and throat. The total number could also get drastically expanded if the deaths from other illnesses caused by smoking are to be considered. For example, smoking can also lead to deaths by coronary heart disease, pulmonary disease and diabetes, among others.

Overall, smoking remains the top preventable cause of cancer and other diseases in the United States, but quitting seems hard for about 40 million Americans.

A Critical Public Health Issue

The alarming number of smoking-related cancer deaths underscores its emergence as a critical public health issue. In 2014, the National Center for Health Statistics cited cancer as the top cause of deaths in the United States. The total figure is 591,699 and smoking related deaths constitute a significant chunk of that figure. It is unfortunate that public response regarding this problem has been tepid. This is critical in the area of policymaking. Without popular clamor, rules and regulations are unlikely to get introduced soon.

"Increasing tobacco control funding, implementing innovative new strategies, and strengthening tobacco control policies and programs, federally and in all states and localities, might further increase smoking cessation, decrease initiation," the researchers recommended.

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