Face the Truth

from Ann Landers, Boston Globe, 12/07/96

"The terse 'surgeon general's warnings' on cigarette packs don't begin to tell the full dangers of tobacco.  The infamous toll is documented in a carefully researched new book published by the American Council on Science and Health.  It is called Cigarettes: What the Warning Label Doesn't Tell You.  Here is a sampling:

"Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and of early ill health and disability.  It is responsible for about 500,000 deaths every year.  No system of a smoker's body is spared its harmful effects.

"Smoking not causes lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, it also makes pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza and the common cold worse and aggravates asthma. Smokers have twice the death rates from cancer as nonsmokers and almost one-third of all cancer deaths are caused by using tobacco.  Cigarettes are associated with cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larnyx, esophagus, pancreas, cervix, kidneys, bladder, colon and bone marrow as well as lungs.

"One-fifth of all deaths from heart disease are due to smoking.  Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have repeated heart attacks and are at higher risks for angina, aortic aneurysms and other cardiovascular diseases.

"Not only does smoking do harm to the blood vessels of the heart, it also injures those throughout the body, leading to stroke and poor circulation in the legs and feet. Smoking cigarettes is one of two main risk factors for stroke.

"Smokers usually look older than nonsmokers because damage to the skin produces wrinkles.  Smoking increases the risk of psoriasis.  The risks of surgery are higher in smokers than nonsmokers.  They require more anesthesia, are more likely to develop respiratory complications and are more apt to need extra oxygen.  Their wounds are slower to heal.

"People who smoke have higher rates of osteoporosis and broken bones.  Their fractures take longer to heal.  And they are more likely to have back pain.

"Women who smoke are more likely to have problems of infertility, tubal pregnancies and miscarriages.  They have more complications during pregnancy and at childbirth. Their babies  are at higher risk of being born premature and, on the average, weigh less than those of non-smoking mothers.  A woman's smoking also increases the risk her baby will be stillborn or have a cleft pallete.  Risks are also higher for sudden infant death syndrome, infant allergies, and unexplained mental retardation and behavioral problems.

"Living with a smoker accounts for hundreds of thousands of cases of bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and worsened asthma in young children.

"The 20th century will be remembered for the tobacco plague that has killed more than 100 million people worldwide.

"During the 1980's, tobacco killed 5 million Americans, compared with 350,000 deaths from other addictive substances.  Worldwide, more than 1 million people die every year from what the book calls 'tobaccosis' - tobacco caused disease.

"And those who have pushed tobocco products for profit and promoted them with enticing skill have yet to be held accountable."