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Public Health Week Aims For 'Healthiest Nation'

April 04, 2018

Can the U.S. Become the "Healthiest Nation in One Generation", by 2030?

It may seem like a lofty goal, but that's what the American Public Health Association is aiming for, as it rolls out Public Health Week this week, from April 2 to 8.

With a theme of "Changing Our Future Together," the APHA is using this week to encourage communities like ours around the nation to purposefully engage in a conversation about the role each of us can play in working to put good health within everyone's reach. Where we live, learn, work, worship and play impacts our health and our opportunity to ward off disease and injury, according to the APHA, and with that in mind, now is the week to focus on all the ways we can work together to create healthier people, families, communities and, eventually, the healthiest nation.

Each day of National Public Health Week focuses a different public health topic that's critical to helping create the healthiest nation. Monday's theme was Behavioral Health, while Tuesday focused on Communicable Diseases. Wednesday the focus shifted to Environmental Health, Thursday focuses on Injury and Violence Prevention, and Friday focuses on Ensuring the Right to Health.

To ensure everyone has a chance at a long and healthy life, we all must work to tackle the underlying causes of poor health and disease risk, according to the APHA. Those causes are rooted in how and where we live, learn, work and play.

So, as part of Wednesday's focus on Environmental Health, we'll address tobacco use and its impact on our health and our environment. For decades, tobacco companies marketed their products to children, deceived consumers about the harm their products cause and failed to take any meaningful action to make their products less harmful or less addictive. Until June 22, 2009, when President Barack Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law, giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to effectively regulate the manufacturing, marketing, labeling, distribution and sale of tobacco products and ending special protections enjoyed by the tobacco industry. FDA took immediate action to initiate a ban on fruit- or candy-flavored cigarettes and shortly thereafter prohibited the labeling of products with the misleading terms such as "light," "low" and "mild" to protect Americans from the uniquely addictive and deadly nature of tobacco products.

The harmful effects of toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco products endanger the health of users and, in the case of secondhand smoke, non-users as well. Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 480,000 premature deaths annually and costing the nation over $289 billion in health care expenses and other economic losses every year.

Get the Facts

  • More than 20 million people in the U.S. have died from tobacco since 1964.
  • Tobacco use accounts for 6 million deaths around the world every year.
  • One out of every 13 children alive today - 5.6 million in total - will die early from smoking.
  • Nine out of 10 smokers start by age 18 or younger.
  • Seven thousand chemical compounds exist in tobacco smoke, 70 of which can cause cancer.
  • Tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in three cancer deaths.
  • More than 3,200 youth smoke their first cigarette every day.
  • Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • Cigar sales increased 123 percent between 2000 and 2011, while cigarette sales decreased 33 percent.
  • E-cigarettes have not been well studied and may contain unknown toxins.
  • Hookah smoking is at least as harmful as cigarette smoking.
  • Tobacco companies spent $8.37 billion on advertisement and promotion of cigarettes in 2011 - or about $23 million per day.

For more information, go to National Public Health Week 2018's web page at Generation Public Health.



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