Introduction Once considered a glamorous and sophisticated habit, smoking is now viewed with increasing disapproval. The recognition of the health risks of smoking is a primary cause of this change in public opinion, and it has led to significant changes in the behavior of many Americans. Over the past four decades, the proportion of cigarette smoking among adults in the United States has dropped 30%. Private businesses and all levels of government have jumped on the nonsmoking bandwagon. Almost every state now restricts smoking bands for indoor workplaces. The U.S. Surgeon General has proposed that America become a completely smoke-free society.
Despite such progress, tobacco use remains widespread. About one in four American adults mokes, and each more than 400,000 Americans die from effects of cigarette smoking. Nonsmokers subjected to the smoke of others also suffer: Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke causes more than 50,000 annual deaths among nonsmokers. Smoking by pregnant women is responsible for about 10% of all infant deaths in this country.
Smokeless tobacco and cigars are regaining popularity. The use of smokeless tobacco tripled since 1972; cigar smoking has increased 66% in the last 5 years.
Given the overwhelming evidence against tobacco, why would anyone today begin using it? How does it exercise its hold over users? What can smokers and nonsmokers do to help achieve a tobacco-free society? In this report, we explore answers to these and other questions.
WHY PEOPLE USE TOBACCO If the United States is to become a tobacco-free society, tobacco use must be prevented. This subsection examines the personal and societal forces that induce people to start smoking, as well as the force that encourage them to continue.
Nicotine Addiction The primary reason people continue to use tobacco despite the health risks is that they have become addicted to a powerful...