For over two decades, eye health organizations have worked diligently to increase awareness of the high risks of macular degeneration from tobacco smoking. Now, the recently-released 2020 Surgeon General’s report has revealed that the work of those organizations is paying off.
Americans are doing better at making good choices when it comes to smoking. According to latest research, the percentage of Americans who smoke has decreased to an all-time low of 14%, or 34 million people. More than three out of every five adults (61.7%) who were ever cigarette smokers have quit, with credit being given to better education, improved health care, availability of effective smoking cessation treatments, aggressive media campaigns, and encouragement of warning labels on tobacco products.
The SG report also found that persons who had smoking-related chronic diseases like macular degeneration were more likely to heed professional advice to quit than those without the disease. This may be because such persons have more contact with healthcare and patient support systems, or simply because they realize that quitting could improve, or avoid exacerbating, their eye condition and general health.
Whatever the reasons for quitting or never starting smoking, this news is good. Unfortunately, the research has shown that, with increasing age, attempts to give up tobacco tend to decrease. If only for that reason, awareness efforts and patient support need to continue as long as the temptation exists.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking Cessation. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2020.