Welcome to my “daily comment.” The ground rules Ceres and I have agreed to are simple. I can write whatever I want, ranging from a sentence to an epic, and nothing is off limits. I can even say things like, “Don’t trade stocks yourself — for most people, it’s smarter to invest through no-load mutual funds.” Which it is.

Yesterday I described how your teenage son or daughter who developed a savings habit instead of a nicotine addiction could have, at age 65, $814,000 instead of cancer.

Today, let me continue on this theme (I promise: no more than two tobacco comments a month, max). I’m prompted to do so by the arrival of A PRIMER ON TOBACCO: A Collection of Facts, Figures and Quotations about Tobacco compiled for the Navy by my college classmate Dr. David Moyer, Captain in the US Navy Medical Corps.

Did you know, for example, that world cigarette consumption in 1994 hit 5.34 trillion — up 1% from the 1993 — which works out to 946 cigarettes for every man, woman, child and two-week-old infant on the planet?

Or that “44% of all Americans have a family member or close friend who died from smoking-related disease” (Washington Post National Weekly — 11/20/95, p. 15)?

Or that 52% of American doctors smoked in 1951? Here’s some good news: that number had by 1990 dropped to just 3%! Compare that with what’s going on in Russia, where I’ve been trying to annoy the tobacco companies with anti-smoking TV commercials. I went to Moscow’s giant and preeminent (for Russia) cancer institute — and was told that 70% of the doctors there smoke. Oncologists!

Did you know that from 1992 to 1993, per capita cigarette consumption in the U.S. dropped 9%, from 506 billion to 461 billion?

Or that smoking is much more prevalent among the less well educated? Only about 14% of college grads smoke, compared with 37% of those with neither a college or high school diploma.

Or that among men 31 to 49 years old, smokers are 1.8 times as likely as nonsmokers to be impotent? (American Journal of Epidemiology, 140:1003, 1994.) Or that it takes 39 weeks for a smoker’s bone fracture to heal versus 21 weeks for a nonsmoker? (Health, 9/95, p. 16.) Or that “infants and children of parents who smoke inhale the same amount of nicotine as if they themselves smoked up to 150 cigarettes yearly?” (Journal of Pediatrics, 9/95, p. 435.) Or that “in a study from Greece, children exposed to [second-hand smoke] had a 3.5-fold increased risk of increased “respiratory morbidity” (three or more episodes of upper or lower respiratory infection in the preceding year) compared to children not exposed to [second-hand smoke]?” (Lancet, 7/29/95, p. 280.)

Well, don’t get me started.

(Now if we could only get Jesse Helms to smoke more.)


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