Yup, we have an opioid overdose crisis — & cigarettes kill 15 X more people

❝ Cigarettes still kill nearly half a million people in the US each year — 15 times the death toll from the opioid crisis. That’s also more than alcohol, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

❝ Thanks to tobacco taxes and cigarette bans, the smoking rate in America has declined dramatically — from around 32 percent in the 1980s to 15 percent today. But over the past couple of years, the smoking prevalence here hasn’t budged while rates have continued to drop in other rich countries like the UK and Canada. Australia has even managed to reduce its smoking rate to an all-time low of 13 percent…

❝ Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration announced a new initiative that could — if it pans out — drive down the US smoking rate much, much further. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the FDA, said the agency plans to set new, much lower limits on the amount of nicotine in tobacco, essentially forcing companies to reengineer cigarettes so they’ll be less addictive…

Given who owns most of Congress, this will take years.

❝ In the meantime, though, there are many other policies the US could pursue to bring down the smoking rate. Adding graphic picture health warnings to cigarette packs or ratifying the UN’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are among a couple of measures America hasn’t put in place even though hundreds of other countries have. So while the new nicotine announcement is a real public health power move, we’re still missing some tobacco control basics.

Other countries have proven that just making cigarette packaging plain deters smoking.

❝ …More than 100 countries around the world have added gruesome pictures of the health effects of cigarettes on packs. (The most recent review of the research suggests the graphical warnings are more effective than text-only warnings at curbing the appeal of smoking.)…

The US hasn’t updated the health warnings on packs in 32 years

While our erstwhile voices of the people mostly blather about what a great job they’re doing fighting on our behalf – just might be time for you to call or write or email your Congress-critter and tell them to actually do something quick and easy to help keep more of us alive.

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