California's Tough Take on Tobacco Works; Cancer Drops
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Efforts to reduce smoking in the state of California over the last 10 years have paid off, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The state is now seeing a decrease in the number of new
From 1988-1997, the number of new cases of lung cancer in California decreased by 14%, while other selected US regions declined by less than 3%, according to CDC experts. Overall, the number of new cases in California has decreased by nearly 2% per year over the last few years.
California's antitobacco stance is one of the toughest in the nation, and it was the first state to add a tobacco tax and use the proceeds to pay for a graphic antismoking advertising campaign.
The state also has banned smoking in restaurants and bars, and some cities are contemplating restrictions on smoking in outdoor areas. In 1987-1988, Californians consumed 126.6 packs of cigarettes per person, but by 1998-1999 were consuming only 61.3 packs per person.
``This study sends a clear message that an effective tobacco control program not only can reduce and prevent tobacco use, but may reduce lung and bronchus cancers and other health consequences attributed to tobacco use,'' CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan explained in statement issued by the agency.
More than 80% of cancers of the lung and bronchus (the passageway entering into the lung) are caused by cigarette smoking, and former smokers have about half the risk of dying from lung cancer than do current smokers, CDC researchers note.
So far, Arizona, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts and Oregon have implemented similar programs and are beginning to see the same results as California. ``As this public health model is transferred to other states, they are seeing similar changes...so it's not unique to California,'' Dr. Terry F. Pechacek with the CDC, told Reuters Health.
``If we applied the knowledge that we have about tobacco control, we could save tens of thousands of lives in this country--people are dying unnecessarily of a very cruel disease--and the cure is known,'' Pechacek said.