Smoking is becoming a very polarizing and contentious issue within the United States. Although the influence of smoking is abating for many individuals within the younger generations, it is still particularly prevalent for those in the baby boomer population. For one smoking has become ingrained within their overall population. Television, media, and at the time, newspapers where flooded with advertisements related to smoking. These marketing initiatives ultimately contributed to an increase in usage (Allen, ). How, although smoking has declined, it is still prominent in many areas around the country. Currently nearly 14 out of 100 adults smokes cigarettes according to the center for disease control. This is a decline of 21% in early 2005, which indicates strong progress in lowering the physical and societal costs of smoking. The demographics of smokers are varied with only 8% of smokers being between the age of 18-24. 17% of smokers are between the ages of 25-44 years old. Another 17% of smokers is between 45 and 64 years old with the remaining 8% of smokers being 65 or older. Likewise the racial makeup of smokers is relatively mixed with the higher proportions being allocated to non-Hispanic whites at 15.5% and African Americans at 15%. Very few smokers have a college degree with nearly 75% of smoker only having high school diploma or lower. Even more alarming 42% of smokers make less than the median household income of $62,000 a year with 23% of them having no insurance.
From these demographics a clear distinction and delineation occurs with smokers and there impacts on surrounding communities. For one a majority of smokers are lower on the socio-economic ladder and thus have limited options financial to course correct their behavior. A majority are older men who have created a very entrenched habit of smoking causing further difficulty in mitigating the behavior (Beck, 1953). Finally, an alarming number of individuals do not have insurance to protect themselves from the adverse circumstances surrounding their many years of smoking. The negative impacts are therefore much more likely to occur with less financial resources to help mitigate them. In addition, these consequences are much more costly due to rising healthcare costs. Currently, healthcare costs account for nearly 17% of GDP or $6.2 Trillion dollars. On a per person basis, this amounts to $11,500 per person in the United States. Projected to 2030 show that healthcare costs can rise as high as 20% of GDP due in part to an aging population. These figures are compounded for smokers who often have much more costly complications including heart disease, lung disease, asthma, bronchitis, cancer and other immune system problems. Each of these elements are vital to human survival and therefore costs much more than the typical American citizen would pay. Ultimately, due to their low socio-economic status and lack of insurance, these expenditures will be difficult to pay (Backett, 1958).
Smoking also impacts society in an adverse manner. Here, due to the inability to pay for many treatment options related to smoking, many taxpayers are often helping to pay the bill. As noted above, this is very costly for society as healthcare expenditures are rising. Here, hard working Americans are often forced to use tax payer funds to help support individuals that made adverse life decisions on their own (Bergler, 1996). This undermines the market system that is predicated on freedom of action and accountability towards those actions. Likewise smoking in terms of second-hand smoke can have adverse impact on parents and children alike. In particular, children exposed to second hand smoke are at risk of various health complications such as asthma, middle ear disease, acute respiratory infections and more. Smoking can even contribute the property damage in the form of fires. Each of these incidents depending on location can cause serve damage to society in the form of damage to property, disruption to business activity, and health concerns (Damon, 2001).
As a result smoking cessation is a critical component to the overall improvement of health and society outcomes. For one, the ability to mitigate the negative effects of smoking on both individuals and society is very important.
As a nurse, community education is important to help mitigate the impacts of smoking on individuals within the community. The first element of the education plan is to help inform smokers about their insurance options. Here, it is important to articulate the value proposition of insurance and how it can be used to help improve the health outcomes of individuals. Second, cessation planning must be discussed as means to help improve overall health outcomes. Here, it is important for smokers to understanding the importance of cessation planning and how it can not only improve individual lives, but the lives of others within the community. Here the education plan must include elements for financial security and insurance. Aspects such as life insurance, health insurance coverage, and proper budgeting must be included in the plan. The cessation portion of the plan must include intervention techniques required to help improve health outcomes for smokers. The plan should also leverage accountability partners to leverage a group dynamic in mitigating the addiction of smoking. Likewise, the plan should have consistent meeting with this group to help overcome many of the obstacles related to cessation. This are critical components of the education plan and material as they enable the individual to help lower the cost of health complications as a result of smoking, while also empowering them to improve their overall health through proper intervention techniques designed to lower the prevalence of smoking in the lives of the individual.
1. Allen, B. V.An investigation of the relationship between smoking and personality. Unpublished M. A. thesis,Univer. of Portland (Ore.),1958.
2. Backett, E. M.Advances in preventive medicine. Practitioner,1958, 181,494502.
3. Beck, I. F.The use and abuse of tobacco. Lancet,1953, 265,392397
4. Bergler, E.Psychopathology of compulsive smoking. Psychiat. Quart.,1996, 20,297321.
5. Damon, A.Constitution and smoking. Science,2001, 134,339340
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