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January 22, 2014 at 6:03 AM
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in King County and Washington state. As the editorial board argued in this Jan. 13 editorial, smoking rates have declined, but wide health disparities persist between smokers and non-smokers. Here’s a previous Opinion Northwest blog post with charts illustrating the problem.
Smoking prevention and cessation efforts nationwide and in Washington should focus on populations more likely to smoke, including the less-educated, low-income, ethnic minority groups and people suffering from mental illness.
Last Friday, acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak unveiled a new list of illnesses caused by smoking and tobacco use. The photos below are from the latest report’s executive summary. (Read this related news story in The Seattle Times.)
Health problems highlighted in red are new associations, including chronic diseases such as macular degeneration, congenital defects and orofacial clefts in babies, tuberculosis, diabetes, ectopic pregnancy, erectile dysfunction in men, rheumatoid arthritis and immunal dysfunction. The surgeon general also added liver and colorectal cancers to the list of consequences.
With regard to secondhand smoke, public health officials have added strokes in adults to the list of health consequences: