Tobacco has come a long way, baby, and it’s always been about the profits. It was the “first crop grown for money in North America,” reports Health Literacy World Education, as well as the primary cash used by the Jamestown settlers in 1612. Tobacco profits also financed the Revolutionary War. The first cigarette making machine was built in 1881 and those infamous Marlboros were birthed in 1902.
By 1944, 300 billion cigarettes were produced. Service members smoked 75% of the product; cigarettes were free perks for soldiers. During and after World War II, tobacco companies began to successfully target women. Twenty years later, the U.S. Surgeon General decided that it would be prudent to warn smokers that the nicotine and tar embedded in those tightly rolled fire sticks could cause cancer. In 1965, Congress passed legislation that required the cigarette pack to have a warning emblazoned on its side saying, “Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health.” There was no label warning how dangerous cigarettes are to the pocketbook.
The cost of smoking in the U.S. is $300 billion per year
In a report from Wallethub.com, the average cost of smoking per person is estimated to be $1.5 million over a lifetime. Multiply that number by the 36 million addicted smokers in the United States and that adds up to a pretty penny. More than $300 billion dollars are handed over by American smokers; it’s not just for the cartons or individual packs. “Direct medical care for adults” takes around $170 billion. Another $156 billion is from “lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to second hand smoke.” The Wallethub.com study says that these costs could be more, or less, depending on what state you reside in. You can check those numbers here.
When you light up, it’s not just tar and nicotine that invade your lungs, blood and body. The American Lung Association warns that over 600 toxic chemicals are found in cigarettes, and when you light them up, another 1000 are created by the flames. Here’s the short list: lead, acetone, benzene, arsenic, butane, ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, naphthalene (used in moth balls) and that cool methanol (used in rocket fuel). It’s no wonder that the health risks of smoking these fire sticks include cancer, heart disease, and, as reported by Men’s Health, stroke, respiratory conditions and even fertility problems.”
Reports vary on how many people die or become ill from the ravages of second hand smoke. Nosmoke.org states that an estimated 53,800 people per year die, including children, from heart disease, lung cancer and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There have been significant efforts in creating smoke free workplaces and business establishments, to “protect everyone’s right to breathe smoke free air.”
The U.S. tobacco industry works hard to keep the truth hidden
The tobacco industry has made a few billion dollar payouts for their subterfuge and lies concerning the dangers of cigarette consumption, but they still fight tooth and nail to prevent the type of labeling that would cause someone to think twice before buying a pack. Stanton Glantz, PhD, is the head of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. In this video from 2012, Glantz documents how Big Tobacco fights world wide to prevent more graphic warning labels.
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