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Surgeon General Links Smoking to 10 Year Early Death

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What is ten years of your life worth to you?  Tobacco use linked to premature death by U.S. Surgeon General’s January 2014 Report.

Sometimes people begin smoking when they are 13 or 14 and have a youthful sense of invincibility. For such youth, it must be hard to get your head around the worth of ten years of your own life. Anyway, a person of any age who still smokes will need understand the value of ten years of your own life because U. S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak reported this month (January, 2014)  that tobacco use is causally connected to premature death. 


Since smoking was first officially linked to lung cancer 50 years ago in the US Surgeon General’s report of 1964, cigarette smoking among adults in the U.S. has declined from 42% to 18%. Among those 18% however, premature death can be expected due to increased relative risk from all cause morbidity due the effects of the chemicals in tobacco smoke. 

Over the 50 years since the Surgeon General's first finding of a causal link between smoking and disease, new insight into the extent to which smoking harms the body, its organs, and its systems have come to light. In this month’s report the Surgeon General reports that after 50 years it is clearer now that smokers who began in adolescence and continued into middle age have an increased risk of morbidity from all causes compared to those who've never smoked.

Bad news!  Over the 50 years since 1964 the all cause risk of morbidity has increased for smokers such that smoking men’s risk increased by a factor of 2 and women smokers risk increased by a factor of 3. Dramatically, the Surgeon General found that current smokers with a long history of smoking are estimated to lose more than a decade of life.  

The ten years of your own life that could be lost to smoking are most likely to be in your retirement, and after your own children have started their families, so when you are a grandparent. By starting to smoke in your teens, or by continuing to smoke in middle age, you may be squandering a future time of your life that most people cherish - the opportunity to know and indulge your own grandchildren, and to share with them their own milestones of growth.

Sadly, the incidence of disease and increased morbidity from smoking is expected not only among  users of tobacco products,  but also among those (often family members) who are exposed to “secondary” smoke.

Know a young friend who has not yet started smoking? The tobacco industry is full of tricks to get young people started with smoking, which then is likely to continue due to its addictive ingredients. Help any young person by sharing this article with them on Facebook. It's good to know if something that is offered as attractive and enjoyable is also addictive, and likely to cost you ten years of life. 

Category: General

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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