The latest report from the U.S. Surgeon General shows the number of Iowans who smoke has gone up slightly. The report shows 23-point-two percent of Iowans smoked in 2002, compared to 22-point-one percent in 2001. Mary Mincer-Hansen is the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.She says the report shows smoking prevalence the highest among those who’re 18 to 24-years-old. She says the report also shows those who smoke come from a lower income socioeconomic and income strata. Mincer Hansen says the report shows some chilling information on the impact of smoking. She says approximately 80-thousand Iowa kids now under 18 and alive, will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. She says we lose 500 Iowans each year from diseases related to second-hand smoke — more than AIDS, accidents, homicide and illegal drugs combines. She says the Surgeon General’s report shows many things, including such as smoking impacts every organ in the human body.She says quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits by reducing the risk for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general. Smoking cigarettes with lower tar and nicotine provide no clear benefit to health.This is the 40th annual report on smoking.She says we have made some progress since the first report as the consumption of cigarettes is down from 335 million to 249 million. Mincer-Hansen says smoking has dropped among middle and high school students. She says it’s not good that overall smoking has increased. She says she’s very disappointed, but says one of the bright spots is the “JEL” program that seeks to keep kids from smoking. She says the state needs more money to put into anti-smoking programs. Mincer-Hansen says they advocate a 60-cent increase in the cigarette tax to help fund anti-smoking campaigns.
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