World No Tobacco Day: A brief review

(World Health Organization)

It was a half-century ago that the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health alerted Americans to the risks of smoking. You can read the entire document here. The report's history is a featured exhibit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

Did you know that the ban on radio and television cigarette advertising began on April 1, 1970, with legislation signed by President Nixon? Here is an early televised public service announcement warning about smoking. For some background on early tobacco regulation—such as local no-spitting-of-tobacco laws—check out this online exhibit from the Kansas Museum of History.

Tobacco use kills six million people worldwide every yearand that is why the World Health Organization sets aside a day, May 31, to highlight the risks and to advocate for policies to reduce consumption. WHO makes no secret of its goal: raising taxes on tobacco. In the United States, federal and state taxes on tobacco have gone up and smoking rates have gone down. But more than 18 percent of American adults still smoke and suffer the consequences. There are consequences for non-smokers, too, including billions of dollars spent on medical care and lost productivity. Quitting is hard; nicotine is highly addictive.

Help is available. For information go to The Pennsylvania Free Quitline number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or click here for information. The New Jersey Free Quitline number is 1-866-NJSTOPS, or click here. The Delaware Free Quitline is 1-866-409-1858, or click here.

The American Lung Association has some great advice as well, including a discussion of tobacco cessation treatments covered under Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, employer-sponsored health care and even for the uninsured. Check it out here.

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