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CigaretteThe first major quantitative study linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was published in 1928.  Forty years later, 50% of adults in the United States were still smoking cigarettes.  Today the prevalence is 20% of adults.

How long does it take for important health findings to translate into practice?  How long will it take for the known connection between obesity and cancer, obesity and heart disease, obesity and diabetes, obesity and premature death, to have a societal effect?

Much of the reduction in tobacco use results from legal prohibitions, the increasing cost of cigarettes, and the public unacceptability of smoking.  However, as once occurred with cigarettes, there are strong forces promoting an obesity-enhancing lifestyle: cheap, tasty and easily available fast food and soft drinks, reduction of physical education in our schools, and ever-present advertising.

We have a long way to go in creating health.  So does the rest of the world.  There are at the current time 1 billion cigarette smokers.  It is estimated that by 2050, if nothing changes, 450 million of them will die as a consequence of smoking cigarettes.

Allan Sosin MD

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