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Smoking’s Toll on Health Is Even Worse Than Previously Thought

| Date Posted: 3/31/2015

     

Michael Pritchett, D.O.

Michael Pritchett, D.O.

A recent article from The New York Times finds smoking's toll on health even worse than previously thought. 

We asked Michael Pritchett, D.O., pulmonologist with Pinehurst Medical Clinic (PMC), his thoughts on the dangers of smoking.

"This article is important as it expands the list of diseases that we can link to smoking as the causative agent.

We have already established a very firm link between cigarette smoking and the development of COPD and lung cancer, and those are the two that most people think of when they think of the dangers of smoking.

However, this list is longer than anyone could have imagined and highlights the need for us to get more aggressive with smoking cessation programs and recommendations to our patients.

No matter what side of the health care debate you're on, smoking is an enormous contributor to these costs both directly and indirectly. Even those of us who feel like we do a good job talking to our patients about the dangers of smoking could probably do even better and this recent report highlights the need for us to do this.

We are all excited about the data from the lung cancer screening trials and both PMC and FirstHealth have developed these programs, but the primary goal is getting people to stop smoking or keep them from starting in the first place. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. accounting for more than half-a-million deaths per year. That number is staggering. With this new information we suspect that we have been seriously underestimating the deaths that can be attributed to smoking. Overall there has only been a small decline in the smoking population in the last 10 years from about 21 percent to 18 percent, but this still accounts for over 42 million Americans who still smoke. 

I hope that this study will arm doctors and patients alike with the much needed information as to the lethality of smoking and thereby encourage smoking cessation."

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