The Real Costs of Tobacco — and Why Prevention Matters
The facts are clear: Tobacco is deadly. It kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. It is projected that 88,000 Oklahoman kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking.
Let that number sink in: 88,000 lives will be cut short due to the harmful effects of tobacco.
How Can We Ensure a Healthier Future for Oklahoma?
If left unchecked, Big Tobacco will rob our kids of the healthy and happy futures they deserve. Prevention starts with educating ourselves and our kids on the risks of smoking, vaping and smokeless tobacco. Check out these five ways to protect your community from tobacco — and keep reading to learn just a few of the ways tobacco robs Oklahoma of its future.
Tobacco Wrecks Our Health
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It also takes a serious toll on your quality of life, often resulting in weight gain, a reduced sex drive and nicotine addiction, which can cause constant nervousness and stress. It also delays the healing of wounds, increasing the risk of infection after surgery. Additionally, smoking is linked to a long list of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, multiple types of cancer and more.
The evidence is clear. The three habits that account for 64% of the deaths in Oklahoma are: poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. To reverse this trend, we must help our kids build healthy habits while they’re young.
Tobacco Hits Us Where It Hurts: Our Wallets
The bottom line? Cigarettes are expensive. In Oklahoma, a single pack costs more than $6.00. If you smoke a pack a day, it adds up quickly. Personal costs aside, Oklahoma bears an even greater financial burden from tobacco: $1.62 billion a year in healthcare costs. This falls on the shoulders of Oklahoma taxpayers, who spend $1,133 per household in state and federal taxes related to tobacco.
Imagine what we could do with the money we’d save if we made early prevention our top priority.
Secondhand Smoke Places Our Children at Risk
The dangers of secondhand smoke are immense. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals — 250 of which are known to be harmful, and 70+ cause cancer. In fact, secondhand smoke kills nearly 50,000 nonsmokers each year. Just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart damage similar to that of an everyday smoker.
This year alone, 216,000 children will be exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes and 300,000 will suffer respiratory infections. Exposure to secondhand smoke leaves Oklahoma kids at greater risk for ear infections, lung infections, asthma attacks, bronchitis and more. Moreover, there is a direct correlation between a child’s exposure to secondhand smoke and their likelihood of becoming smokers as teens or adults.
Let’s All Do Our Part
Oklahoma’s future is bright — if we take action. Educating our kids must be our top priority. We’ve made great strides toward teaching Oklahoma students about the dangers of tobacco, but tobacco is still a serious problem. Let’s continue the conversation, because prevention is our greatest weapon in this fight.
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