Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition supports Surgeon Generalís call to action

The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress released at a report by the Office of the Surgeon General. According to the report, 151,000 Indiana youth will become smokers and die prematurely. This is 9.5 percent of teens ages 17 and younger, almost one of every 10 Hoosier kids. The new report calls on Americans to make the next generation tobacco free.

"We will continue to work to support policies that protect our community members from the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke," said Dan Gray, director of the Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition. "This report is a call to action that we must act now to prevent our children from becoming addicted to tobacco."

The new report updates estimates on the human and financial tolls of the cigarette smoking epidemic, finding that it kills close to half a million Americans a year and costs more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and economic loss. In just the last 50 years, 20 million Americans have died because of smoking.

Since that 1964 report, evidence has linked smoking to diseases of nearly all the body's organs.  And today's report establishes more new links, finding that cigarette smoking causes diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer. Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in Indiana and the U.S.

Indiana continually ranks high among all states for smoking prevalence, with a smoking rate of 24 percent. That is higher than the national average of 19.6 percent. Nearly 30 percent (29.6 percent) of Hoosier adults between the ages of 18 and 30 are current smokers, according to the report. Tobacco use kills more than 9,700 Hoosiers each year and costs the state over $2 billion in healthcare costs annually, including more than $487 million in Medicaid costs.

"This report calls on public health leaders to use all the tools we have to lower tobacco use rates," said Miranda Spitznagle, director of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation at the Indiana State Department of Health. "We need partners in health care, business, education, faith-in all sectors of our society--to work at the state and local levels to help in building a tobacco free generation."

"The Wabash Coalition," stated Gray, "is diligently working to reduce the use of tobacco by continuing the efforts to introduce cessation programs to Wabash County residents.  When someone is ready to stop smoking or use chew, we want to help with the 1-800- QUIT-NOW free counseling or with cessation classes that are offered through the YMCA.  Gray added that prevention is the key to keep Hoosiers healthy.  There are youth prevention programs that warn and encourage youth to never experiment and start using tobacco.  It can take one cigarette for a young person to become addicted.  Ninety per cent of tobacco users start before the age of 18, with the average age being 13.  Each day, an estimated 3,500 people under the age of 18 begin smoking. Many young people begin smoking without considering the possibility they may become addicted, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. However, by the time young people reach age 18, they may find themselves addicted and difficult to quit."

New findings in this report conclude that smoking causes rheumatoid arthritis and immune system weakness, increased risk for tuberculosis disease and death from TB, ectopic pregnancy and impaired fertility, cleft lip and cleft palates in babies of women who smoke during early pregnancy, erectile dysfunction in men, age-related macular degeneration, and increases the failure rate of cancer treatment. The report concludes that secondhand smoke exposure is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers.

Smoking also negatively affects the health of babies. More than 100,000 babies have died in the U.S. during the last 50 years from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), complications from prematurity and low birth weight, and other problems resulting from parental smoking. In Indiana, 77 infants out of every 10,000 born die before their first birthday.

Those who stop smoking dramatically reduce their risk for heart attacks, asthma attacks, cancers and other diseases. The Indiana Tobacco Quitline is a free service to help Hoosiers quit tobacco for good. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn more or visit or

For more information about Surgeon General's Report, visit

To learn more about the Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition, contact Dan at 41 W. Canal Street, Wabash, 260-274-2920,

Posted on 2014 Feb 04