Tobacco

When Will the CDC Admit That Cigarettes Are Killing Fewer Americans?

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When I was researching my 1998 book on the anti-smoking movement, I wondered when the government's estimate for the annual number of smoking-related deaths in the U.S. would start to fall. After all, the prevalence of cigarette smoking had dropped dramatically, from about 43 percent of American adults in 1966 to about 25 percent in the late '90s (it's now about 20 percent). But the official death toll always seemed to go up, not down, partly due to population growth and the long-term effects of cigarette smoking even among people who have given it up. In recent years the number has seemed to stagnate at "more than 400,000," as the CDC puts it. But a new study in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research suggests that figure is an overestimate. Instead of adding up deaths due to various smoking-related diseases, University of Louisville tobacco researcher Brad Rodu and University of Alabama at Birmingham epidemiologist Philip Cole used the overall differences in mortality between smokers, former smokers, and never-smokers to estimate that smoking caused 322,000 deaths in 2002, compared to 402,000 in 1987. This 20 percent reduction could be cited as evidence of the anti-tobacco movement's success, but activists and public health officials may worry that a falling death toll would undermine the public's sense of urgency and support for anti-smoking efforts. Bureaucrats in particular want to be seen as effective, but not so effective that their budgets should be cut. Although "the proportion of Americans who smoke cigarettes has declined 50% since 1965," Rodu and  Cole note, "the effect on mortality of this considerable reduction has received little attention."

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  1. Even if the number of deaths from first hand smoke is decreasing, I’m sure the deaths caused by second hand smoke is keeping the rate stable.

  2. Bureaucrats in particular want to be seen as effective, but not so effective that their budgets should be cut.

    The Golden Rule of government.

  3. Even if the number of deaths from first hand smoke is decreasing, I’m sure the deaths caused by second hand smoke is keeping the rate stable.

    True, because Second Hand Smoke only started hurting people in the last few years…

  4. One wonders how much the so-called War on Terror is modeled on the anti-smoking movement. Is an extemely health-conscious, risk-averse society more susceptable to manipulation by government?

  5. Even a single death is one death too many.

  6. Those damn bureaucrats. All they ever want to do is increase the budgets of their departments.

    Oh, wait. I thought all a bureaucrat ever wanted to do was work slowly and increase the number of forms we have to fill out. When does that give them time to also hatch an evil plan to increase their departmental budget?

    And why would a bureaucrat care if his departmental budget was increased as long as he gets to keep that fat, never-changing government pay and benefits package? Isn’t the whole point of our anti-government rants our firm belief that government provides no financial incentives to its workers? If so, what is the incentive for these evil bureaucrats who are scheming to increase their own budgets (but not their paychecks)?

  7. Because, silly, bigger budgets come with bigger salaries.

    Here, Educate yourself.

  8. And a book written in 1944 tells me what about US Federal Employee salary scales in 2007?

  9. Fortunately, those tobacco deaths are not actually real people, but the result of some bureaucrat’s computer program. The same data yields 504,000 “deaths” from lack of exercise, and 649,000 from inappropriate diet. Here..http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv21n4/lies.pdf

    Considering that the smoking “victims” in this computer simulation outlived the average American, here.. http://www.forces.org/evidence/sammec/newproof.htm we don’t have too much to worry about. Light up and lighten up!

  10. Hmm, I think Feeble Dan T misses the mark. If there are less smokers, there is also less second hand smoke. Couple that with less places one can publicly smoke, and there’s even less second hand smoke. Those two facts combined would tend to make second hand smoke deaths/illnesses drop at a rate equal to or faster than the active smoker death rate. Simple cause and effect, no?

  11. This is slightly off topic, but I have a question for cigarette smokers.

    I often have arguments with anti-smokers in which I claim that one reason people smoke is because they enjoy it. This usually gets a response along the lines of “No way, nobody could possibly enjoy something like that. What do you think they enjoy about it?”

    I’d like to have a detailed answer for this reponse. So my question is: Can you give a description of what it is you like about it?

  12. …activists and public health officials may worry that a falling death toll would undermine the public’s sense of urgency and support for anti-smoking efforts…

    God forbid that we should have fewer incidents of smug teenagers doing bad street theater…

  13. I can certainly answer the question above on why a smoker enjoys smoking. Try for once in your life googling “Health Benefits from Smoking”. You’ll find it has proven to relieve anxiety (most likely caused from being discriminated against by smoking ban pushers) and shows definite signs of decreased alshymers disease. Smoking calms your nerves and anxieties which by most doctors say is the #1 killer (worry & anxiety). Thanks to the Anti-Smokers using their scare tactics you non-smokers are all gonna die cause of your worry and anxiety.

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