What is the true cost of tobacco use? The #1 preventable cause of death in our country, tobacco use is responsible for over $89 billion per year in health care costs in the US. It kills 430,000 smokers every year. Another 60,000 die from their exposure to secondhand smoke. Adults and children suffer from illnesses due to their involuntary exposure. Annual expenditures through Social Security Survivors Insurance for the more than 300,000 children who have lost at least one parent from a smoking-related death is $2.3 billion.
Other non-healthcare costs from tobacco use include residential and commercial property losses for smoking-caused fires, totaling approximately $400 million per year. Productivity losses add up to more than $93 billion a year. The costs, financial and human, are staggering. We can reduce those costs by preventing initiation of tobacco use by children, helping smokers quit and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
To combat the problems associated with tobacco use, Suffolk County has launched a comprehensive program. This program will help prevent children from becoming addicted to nicotine, assist those who want to quit and strictly enforce laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors and clean indoor air.
The Office of Health Education has implemented a comprehensive approach to help young people break their addiction to nicotine and to provide prevention programs for those who have not started. The best way to prevent tobacco use is to provide health education for students beginning in kindergarten and continuing each year until 12th grade. Training in HealthSmart, a comprehensive K-12 health education curriculum, is available for Suffolk County teachers. School staff are also trained to provide pre-cessation and cessation programs for students addicted to nicotine. All curricula and training are provided free of charge to any Suffolk County public or private school. Districts also receive assistance in strengthening their tobacco control policies.
Research shows that placing youth in positions of leadership reinforces healthy decision-making, including the decision not to use tobacco products. Students have participated in youth empowerment conferences, peer leadership trainings and educational theater as ways to increase their leadership skills and to be able to positively influence their peers to choose a healthy lifestyle.
Smoking Cessation programs
Helping people break the addiction to nicotine is essential to achieving sustained declines in tobacco use. Suffolk County’s smoking cessation program provides behavior modification and supportive pharmaceuticals to medically eligible participants. All cessation groups and programs are supervised by a nurse practitioner and services are provided to residents at no cost. Program participants also receive personalized follow-up. We support them in discovering the benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle.
Counter-marketing and Public Information
Tobacco use has been "glamorized" and "normalized" by decades of tobacco industry advertising. To combat this slick, highly-financed advertising, Suffolk County is presenting "the real truth" about tobacco use. Presentations are available to high schools, colleges and community groups.
Suffolk County is also working with local Kiwanis Clubs to provide resources to help Emergency Room nurses and doctors learn how to help reduce a child’s exposure to secondhand smoke and prevent many childhood illnesses.
Suffolk County is committed to vigorously enforcing all state and local laws that apply to tobacco sales and use, including laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco to youth under the age of 21. The county has enacted strong laws restricting tobacco advertising near children’s treats, candy, toys and trading cards, and also requires that all tobacco products be placed behind a counter. Suffolk County also enforces the New York State and Suffolk County clean indoor air laws.
- Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 430,000 deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $89 billion in medical costs.
- More than 60,000 individuals die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides and fires ... combined!
The overwhelming majority of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18. Every day, 2,000 American children become regular smokers - 12 children a day right here in Suffolk County.
There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can cause immediate harm.
Secondhand smoke can cause pneumonia, bronchial and respiratory infections, ear infections, new cases of asthma in infants and children, and is a known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is responsible for between 10,000 and 15,000 hospitalizations of children each year.
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