Millions Of Children Could Die From Smoking, Surgeon General Rep - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Millions Of Children Could Die From Smoking, Surgeon General Report

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WMDT 47 NEWS - When people think lung cancer, they typically associate it with smoking, but what about diabetes, arthritis, and even erectile dysfunction?

Fifty years into the war on smoking, scientists are still adding diseases to the long list of cigarette related illnesses, as governments fight to get people to kick the habit.

Half a century into the fight against tobacco, officials have found themselves at a crossroads.

"We've come a long way, and there aren't as many people smoking, but there's still a lot of people dying from smoking," says Jennifer Johnson, in charge of smoking cessation for the Wicomico County Health Department.

At 18 percent, smoking rates among adults and teens are less than half of what they were when the surgeon general released its first report, but Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services, said the government may not meet its goal of dropping that number to 12 percent by 2020.

This report marked the first time the surgeon general reported smoking was at least somewhat linked to a long list of illnesses, including diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and ectopic pregnancies, where a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus.

If current trends continue, a shocking statistic, an estimated 1 in 13 children will die early from smoking related illnesses.

This, prompting local governments to start fighting through the smoke as early as preschool.

"I did the big bad wolf and the three little pigs, and the wolf was a smoker, so he couldn't blow the house down your bringing it down to their level," says Johnson.

Health officials say stopping the habit early is crucial in Wicomico County, where 22 percent of adults smoke, higher than the state average.

Johnson says "we've come a long way, but there are still people out there who need the help."

The health department offers cessation classes and the state of Maryland has a hotline people can call to get help quitting.

On top of the adverse health effects, smoking comes with a pretty hefty financial price tag, costing more than $289 billion a year in medical care and other economic costs.

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