The public health ramifications of tobacco use are jarring. According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost half a million people in the US die from smoking or second-hand exposure every year. And more than eight million live with a serious illness brought on by tobacco use. But if there is to be a silver lining, it is that smoking is the single most preventable cause of disability and death in the US.
With these facts in mind, the City of Chicago has made impressive strides in reducing the rates of smoking among its residents. Last year, youth smoking rates measured in at 10.7 percent (down from 13.6 percent in 2011) and 17.7 percent (down from 22.6 percent in 2011) among adults. These drops have been spurred on by a series of initiatives that include the highest cigarette tax in the nation and wide-ranging bans on smoking in public spaces (which extend even to electronic cigarettes).
Beginning today, the city is adding to this impressive body of work by announcing Smoking Cessation Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness for smokers seeking ways to quit. Throughout this week, the city and its partners, which include the University of Chicago Medicine, will be engaging in activities that encourage smokers to talk to their healthcare providers about help with quitting — something that greatly increases the chances that a smoker will be able to quit for good.
At a press conference held today at City Hall, smoking researcher Daniel Fridberg, PhD, a member of the Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory, stood alongside city luminaries such as Alderman Joann Thompson (16th) and Bechara Choucair, MD, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, in support of Smoking Cessation Awareness Week. Fridberg spoke on the measures that the University of Chicago community will take regarding smoking cessation, including signage, newsletters and stories in our various publications.
To kick off the week, Andrea King, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, presents a short seminar on electronic cigarettes. King, who runs the Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory and programs such as Courage to Quit — a stop smoking program sponsored by the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago –, is a nationally recognized expert on addiction and substance use disorders, with a focus on cigarette and alcohol use. Recent work from her lab has shown that electronic cigarettes act as a cue that increases the urge to smoke both regular and e-cigarettes in young adult smokers, and suggests that the rapid rise in e-cigarette use may perpetuate smoking and dual use of these tobacco products. Here, she gives healthcare providers a brief overview of electronic cigarettes.
Electronic Cigarettes, what we know and what we don’t