The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has launched the “Tips from Former Smokers”
national tobacco education ad campaign that
depicts the harsh reality of illness and damage
real people suffer as a result of smoking and
exposure to secondhand smoke. In these ads,
former smokers bravely expose their smoking-related
disabilities on advertisements that run heavily
on our airwaves between March and June.
We feel the impact of smoking-related diseases
here, too. Nearly 4,400 Iowans die from smoking-related
diseases every year, leaving behind families,
friends and lives. At the same time, each day
1,000 Americans under the age of 18 begin smoking,
yet, our state has cut youth tobacco prevention
over the past couple of years.
Every hour, the tobacco industry spends $1 million
to market and promote their products making
smoking look glamorous, sexy and mature.
This is far from the reality of smoking. The
“Tips from Former Smokers” campaign will show
smoking in its true light — what physicians
see in their offices day in and day out.
Reality is emphysema, heart attacks, amputations,
cancer and lost voice boxes. People believe
that smoking kills, but that’s only part of
the story; smoking also disfigures and robs
smokers of their independence. The brave former
smokers in these ads will show you the reality.
We must address tobacco use for what it really
is: an addiction that has cost Iowa thousands
of lives and millions of dollars. In Iowa alone,
$1 billion is spent on annual health care costs
directly caused by smoking, of which $301 million
is paid by the State Medicaid program.
It is our hope these ads help Iowa smokers quit
and that our legislature will continue to provide
the Quitline in our state that helps people
try to quit. Unfortunately, Iowa’s Tobacco Control
Program has seen significant cuts and if this
trend continues, we could see an increase in
both adult and youth smoking rates.
Bringing these messages to the public is vital
if we intend to save Iowans from the devastation
of more tobacco-related death and disease. The
CDC recommends Iowa spend $36.7 million on tobacco
control programs. Two-hundred-ninety-five million
dollars is collected from the cigarette taxes
and tobacco settlement payments every year —
more than enough to support an adequate tobacco
control program. Currently, Iowa spends 2.8
million on the state’s Tobacco Control Program,
while the tobacco industry spends more than
$100 million in Iowa each year to recruit new
smokers. This is why it is critical that our
legislators restore funding for the Tobacco
Division to $7.8 million so we can help provide
resources to Iowans to quit smoking and prevent
our youth from ever starting this deadly habit.
I urge you to contact elected officials across
Iowa to support these proven solutions:
• A well-funded tobacco prevention program with
a strong youth tobacco prevention program.
• Strengthening Iowa’s Smoke-Free Air Act to
protect Iowa’s entire workforce.
• Higher tobacco taxes.
• Tobacco-free schools. CV
Dr. Steve R. Eckstat is a general practitioner
and resides in Altoona.