Getting adults to quit smoking and preventing kids from ever starting are the best defenses against heart disease, stroke and other diseases, according to a new study.
hero_image_alt_text===Diagram of human heart
thumbnail_alt_text===Diagram of human heart
Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., kills about half a million Americans a year. More than 100,000 deaths annually could be prevented with smoking cessation and prevention, the authors said.
“Evidence indicates that receiving advice and help from a doctor can more than double the chance of smokers being successful at quitting,” said Michael Maciosek, senior research investigator and health economist at HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Minneapolis. “Trying until successful so that a patient can quit before a serious smoking-related disease sets in can extend quantity and quality of life and reduce healthcare costs.”
Researchers probed the value of brief, annual tobacco counseling for 4 million youth and adults, finding that it saves lives and reduces healthcare costs. But only one-third of the potential health and economic benefits of counseling are actually being realized, the authors said.
Youth counseling could prevent 42,686 smoking deaths and save $225 a person in healthcare costs annually, according to the study. Adult counseling could stop 69,901 smoking fatalities and save $580 a person per year.
“The rankings should help guide us as a nation,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association. “It can be hard to know where to begin with competing priorities. This ranking makes it clear where we will see the biggest improvements for the best value.”
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