From the “As if you needed another reason to quit smoking” (or never start) department: a report in Reuters Health this morning highlights a new study showing that menthol cigarette smokers have more strokes than those who smoke non-menthol brands — especially women and those who identified as non-African-American. Investigators looked at eight years of health and lifestyle surveys of some 5,000 smokers, and after adjusting the numbers for race, sex, age, and other factors, found that stokes were twice as common in menthol smokers, and three times as common in female menthol smokers.
While they can’t say conclusively that the menthol filters cause the higher incidence, there’s at least a casual correlation here. That’s’ pretty scary — do we really know what is in those filters? Big Tobacco certainly won’t give up the secret recipe. If anyone says that cigarettes, second-hand smoke, or other forms of tobacco “aren’t that bad,” remind them of this:
- Tobacco use is the most common preventable cause of death
- There are at least 50 chemicals in second hand smoke known to cause cancer, including benzene, carbon monoxide, and arsenic.
- Quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of death.
- One of every five deaths in the U.S. each year is smoking related, and one in every 10 globally.
- Roughly 80 percent of smokers light up before age 18
- Smokeless tobacco increases risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer.
- The risk of bladder cancer is three times higher for smokers than for non-smokers
Smoking cost the United States $96 billion each year in direct healthcare costs and $97 billion from lost productivity due to premature death – that’s about $4,260 per adult smoker.
Smoking and related disease is a global crisis. Check out this interactive tobacco atlas – a cooperative venture of the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation for a world-wide look at the problem.
Despite all the scientific evidence and data, 21 percent – one-fifth – of adults in the U.S. still smoke. Yes, it’s tough to quit, and many people need several attempts before they succeed. But quitting smoking is literally a life and death decision.
There are many local and national resources available to help. There are even smartphone apps! You can start here:
- New York State Smokers Quitline (your state probably has one too)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Quit Smoking Page
- National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative (many additional resources provided)
- Foundation for a Smoke-Free America
- What to Look for in a Quit Smoking Program (Wellsphere)
- My Screen Buddy Quit Smoking Program (iphone/ipod touch)