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Health Care Costs from Smoking Are a Drag

stubbed out cigaretteCutting back on smoking could reduce U.S. health care spending by nearly $100 billion a year, thanks to the reduction in costly tobacco-related maladies, reports the Associated Press. The Congressional Budget Office expects the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1256) to cut the use of tobacco products among underage users by 11 percent and reduce the population of adult tobacco users by 2 percent by 2019.

The bill would provide the Food and Drug Administration with unprecedented control over the tobacco industry. This act allows FDA to require full disclosure of ingredient lists and to order tobacco companies to reduce the amount of harmful ingredients in their products. It would also change warning label content and increase label size, as well as ban marketing to minors. The Secretary of Health and Human Services reserves the authority to mandate additional changes to warning labels that benefit public health. The legislation also prohibits labeling cigarette packets with phrases like “light” and “low tar,” which are often deceiving to consumers and mask the health risks. It would also forbid the sale of most flavored cigarettes.

For the moment, cigarettes remain unregulated drug delivery systems. Here’s a look at some of the most recent data on national smoking trends:

19.8 percent of adults in the United States (43.4 million people) were current smokers in 2007.

30 percent of all cancer deaths involve smoking as the primary cause.

443,000 people died prematurely every year as a result of smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke during the period between 2000 and 2004.

During that same period, smoking caused $98 billion in productivity losses each year.

For every person who dies of a smoking-related disease, 20 more people suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking.

20 percent of high school students were smokers in 2007.

3,600 people between the ages of 12 and 17 pick up smoking everyday.

Image: flickr user Sami__

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