Great American Smokeout 2018

Mixed reviews: Cigarette smoking rates down, vaping up

Since the 1960s, when the government started warning against the hazards of smoking and tracking tobacco use among Americans, smoking rates have been dropping.

Those rates have now hit a new low.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Nov. 8 that an estimated 17 percent of Americans smoke. That's down from a high of 42 percent among adults in 1965, due in part to those Surgeon General warnings, a TV and radio advertising ban, growing public awareness of the dangers and quit-smoking solutions.

"This new, all-time low in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is a tremendous public health accomplishment-and it demonstrates the importance of continued, proven strategies to reduce smoking," Robert Redfield, CDC director, says.

Still any celebration has been muted.

"The continued drop in adult smoking rates to historic lows is encouraging and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is committed to accelerating declines in smoking and shifting the trajectory of tobacco-related disease and death through our comprehensive approach to tobacco and nicotine regulation," says Scott Gottlieb, M.D, FDA commissioner.

Redfield adds: "Despite this progress, work remains to reduce the harmful health effects of tobacco use."

Thursday, Nov. 15, marked the annual Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, presenting an opportunity for doctors of optometry to talk to patients about the smoking's effects on the eyes.

What doctors of optometry can do


Not only is smoking an irritant to the eyes, but it also is a major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, and the leading cause of preventable disease in the U.S. About 480,000 people die annually from cigarette smoking, the CDC says.

And though smoking rates for combustible cigarettes are on the decline, the rates of vaping among middle- and high-schoolers has reached epidemic proportions. The CDC tracking covers cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes (which contain nicotine), hookah/water pipes/pipes, plus smokeless tobacco. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced his agency would be pursuing further steps to protect young people from using e-cigarettes including a ban on flavored tobacco products.

Doctors of optometry have a role in educating patients about ways to help mitigate this public health hazard, says Sue Lowe, O.D., chair of the AOA's Health Promotions Committee. There are grounds to feel good about the lower smoking rates among adults, Dr. Lowe says, but she also is alarmed by the vaping rates.

Use these tools and resources to help patients kick the habit:

Click here
 to access the pamphlet "Contact Lenses, Smoking and Vaping."
Click here
 to access the "Smoking, Vaping and Your Eyes" fact sheet.
Click here
to access the "I See Tobacco Free" pamphlet on smoking and contact lenses
Click here
for Great American Smokeout resources
Click here
for CDC smoking resources.
Click here
for AOA members-only public education and campaign materials

November 19, 2018

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