[Wanted to make sure my next Huffington Post tobacco post was echoed on our blog too, so please see the following post up there now, and please share it widely too!]
I used to be annoyed with smokers; now that I’m involved in tobacco control work at The Fenway Institute‘s Network for LGBT Health Equity, I realize how that thinking is seriously misguided. The epitome of my boorish behavior occurred one New Year’s Eve in New York City. I was all dressed up for the New York City Road Runners Midnight Run in Central Park. Walking back, I ran across Peter Jennings, the popular news anchor. He said “Great costume!” My reply to this star sighting? “You shouldn’t smoke.” I still cringe at the memory.
Yes, Peter Jennings shouldn’t smoke, a point that was no doubt driven home by his later death from lung cancer. I, like many others, thought smokers were the problem with smoking. They aren’t. Many non-smokers don’t realize smoking is actually a pediatric epidemic. The average age of initiation is a tender 11 years old. An addiction researcher friend of mine who’s personally experienced heroin and tobacco addiction is very clear: Tobacco is the more addictive of the two, in his opinion. Now, what if companies were legally addicting one-fifth of our kids to heroin at the age of 11? Would our reaction be to just say to all those adults, “You should stop”? Of course not. We’d offer them lots of support and tools to stop while turning back and tackling the root of the problem, as we should with tobacco.
Let’s put smoking in its larger context. How many health insurance companies pay for cessation treatment? Too few. How many even pay for nicotine replacement therapies? Again, way too few. (Remember, if you wanted heroin treatment, you can get methadone for free at government-funded clinics.) How much of the hundreds of millions in tobacco taxes are put toward cessation treatment? A recent Massachusetts study estimated 99 percent of their tobacco taxes are funneled to other issues. According to the most recent American Lung Association report, 32 states get an F on their cessation efforts, the feds get a D, and the highest scoring handful of states only get Cs.
Read the rest on their site, and do please share! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scout-phd/quitting-smoking_b_2582247.html