Although cigarette smoking is on the decline, it remains the leading cause of preventable disease in the U.S. More than 480,000 deaths every year are due to cigarette smoking. The rates of cigarette smoking remain highest among young adults ages 18 to 24, people with lower levels of education, those whose incomes are below the poverty level, and some races and ethnicities. In fact, among high school students, tobacco and nicotine use is growing because of their use of e-cigarettes, hookahs, and vaping.
Then there’s the issue of marijuana smoking. Marc Moss, M.D. lives in Colorado, where marijuana was recently legalized, and he notes that the percentage of cannabis users has increased steadily since its legalization, going from 6 to 12 percent among adults age 26 and older, and from 22 to 31 percent among college-age students. This raises serious concerns, he says. In a recent article for the American Thoracic Society, he wrote, “the potential harmful effects of e-cigarette and cannabis on the lung cannot be overlooked.”
One Way to Help the Tobacco Problem: Support a Higher Age for Tobacco Sales
One city in Massachusetts reported that, when they raised the age for tobacco sales, teenage smoking dropped by almost 50 percent. Dr. Moss urges people to support a raising of the age for tobacco sales in their states. Ways you can lend support to this effort include writing a letter to the editor of your newspaper, writing posts on your social media accounts about why we need to raise the minimum age, and stressing that we need to do this to protect our children. You can also contact your local, state, and federal legislators and ask them to support laws that raise the age of legal tobacco purchase to 21 years.
Another Way to Support Lung Health
As discussed above, it’s not just tobacco smoking that contributes to lung disease; it’s also the use of e-cigarettes, vaping, and marijuana. To help support lung health, Dr. Moss urges you to also post, discuss, and send letters about the deleterious effects of these products.
Information for this article was obtained from ATS News.