For every challenging medical issue, there’s a quick fix that exists in alternative medicine – and disappointingly, sometimes it’s sitting on a pharmacy’s shelf. This week I spotted an advertisement targeting an addiction, one that is the single biggest preventable cause of death worldwide: smoking. We associate smoking with lung cancer, but smoking kills in two other ways as well: cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tobacco kills 6 million people per year, causing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of pain, suffering, and economic damage. [PDF] Stopping smoking reduces the risk of dying – the damage lessens over time in those that quit completely.
Despite the known harms, quitting smoking is very difficult: 70% of active smokers say that they want to quit, 40% tried to quit over the last year, yet only 3-7% are smoke free after one year of quitting. With support and treatment, abstinence rates can climb to 30%+ (at best) but few seek medical attention and support. Some may be enticed by advertisements like the one I spotted. The website and ad have the same message: Continue reading