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GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support series for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. We avoid discussion of political issues. If you are quitting or even thinking about quitting, please -- join us! You can add GUS to your stream by clicking on the ♥ next to the GUS tag. The GUS Library at dKosopedia is organically evolving, and stocked with free-range information, quit-smoking links, and helpful GUS writing tips.
"A message to all quitters: you don't have to avoid GUS if your latest attempt to quit didn't work out. We won't give you a bad time and we consider the attempted quits as practice for the real quit." (h/t to FG)
Last month's comprehensive The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014 makes the case that smoking kills with devastating scientific, peer reviewed evidence going all the way back to 1964, when the 1st Surgeon General Report on smoking appeared. There is more than enough info and topics involved to cover several in depth diaries, and I'm just going to cover some basics today.

The full report is more than 900 pages long and is important reading for anyone who's been affected by smoking. I urge everyone to take a look at it. It is in a pdf format and some of it is undergoing remediation to bring it into compliance with Section 508 but the information is easily understood, the graphs are fascinating, and the way forward is clear and obvious.

The findings from a decade ago, in 2004, concluded that nearly every organ of the body is affected and those points are strengthened by this report's additional evidence. More than a dozen cancers are now causally linked with smoking, including liver and colorectal for the first time, along with a full range of chronic diseases, from diabetes, stroke, hip fractures, and erectile dysfunction, to blindness, rheumatoid arthritis, TB, asthma, pneumonia and coronary heart disease to name just a few. The results of smoking are grim and the epidemic "ranks among the greatest public health catastrophes of the [20th] century."

It's been a largely preventable epidemic, worsened by known and admitted to tobacco industry practices, including manipulation of ingredients, manipulation of advertising, manipulation of data, and manipulation of human beings.

More than 20 trillion cigarettes have been smoked in the US in the past 50 years and more than 20 million people have died as a result of smoking, including 2.5 million from second hand smoke and 100,00 babies from "sudden infant death syndrome (often referred to as SIDS) or complications from prematurity, low birth weight, or other conditions caused by parental smoking, particularly smoking by the mother."

Although smoking rates have declined dramatically, from 42% in 1965 to 18% in 2012, that's still more than 45 million adult smokers. And declines have slowed in recent years.
flumptytail shared a good graphic put up by CNN Money last week that shows some basic breakdowns of who smokes:
cnnmoney who smokes

Men have historically been more prone to smoking but women have sadly narrowed that gap, and furthermore are now just as likely as men to contract most of the afflictions attributed to smoking.

As one can see, "very large disparities in tobacco use remain across racial/ethnic groups and between groups defined by educational level, and by socioeconomic status."

"Some of the highest prevalence rates have been observed among persons of lower socioeconomic status, sexual minorities (including individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and individuals with same sex relationships and/or attractions), high school dropouts, and in Appalachia and the South as well as among vulnerable populations with complex comorbid medical illness (e.g. HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular disease), mental illness, and alcohol and substance abuse disorders."

The Advocate had a good article and graphic last month to coincide with the report release and they tied in findings that have been available since November 2012, when the American Journal of Public Health presented results in Current Tobacco Use Among Adults in the United States: Findings From the National Adult Tobacco Survey:

LGBT smoking graphic

Most first time use occurs by 18 years of age (87%) and rises to 98% by age 26. It's absolutely essential that anti-smoking efforts be focused on preventing young people from ever starting. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009, gives the FDA the power to regulate the tobacco industry and sweeping changes have already occurred with the goal of keeping our kids from ever lighting up, and helping people who already are smokers to successfully quit.  

I let a guy cut in front of me in the checkout line at the store a couple weeks ago because all he wanted was cigarettes and when he asked the clerk for a pack of Marlboro Black Red, I had no idea what he was buying. Probably because manufacturers since July 2010 are prohibited from labeling or selling brands with “light,” “low," “mild” or similar descriptors without FDA approval. It's all color coded for Marlboro's now, which has more than 40 different "color" choices in its US lineup. Flavored cigarettes are banned, with the exception of menthol. Sales are generally limited to face to face retail to customer exchanges, with very limited exceptions for vending machines in strictly adult establishments. It further limits and restricts point-of-purchase advertising placement. Promotional product tie ins like shirts, hats, lighters, and other swag are also now prohibited. And those graphic warning labels on the packs themselves that are prevalent in other countries, while still tied up in litigation, are eventually coming. A Federal excise tax of $1.01 per pack is now imposed and President Obama proposed an additional $0.94 in his 2014 budget.

The Surgeon General report recommends a number of actions with a concrete goal to "reduce the smoking rate to less than 10% for both youth and adults in 10 years" such as high impact media campaigns, working through the Affordable Care Act to provide access to proven tobacco cessation treatments, expanded tobacco control and research, and smoke free indoor protection to 100% of the population.

We at GUS have an opportunity when we see someone light up of sharing our first hand experiences in a thoughtful manner, without being pushy, or sanctimonious or meddlesome or overbearing because we know how hard it is to stay quit and how good it feels when we are. Our children's future depends on us speaking up when appropriate and being the good mentors I know we are. So, in closing, please, please, if you know someone who smokes or you're a smoker yourself remember

Today is a great day to think about and talk about quitting smoking









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It's . really.

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