How Big Is the Tobacco Industry?
How big is the tobacco industry? That’s a question I hear from many non-smokers who have no idea that they are contributing to tobacco use by smoking on a daily basis. The answer is not big. It is minuscule.
Tobacco Control is primarily focused on study and research that advance knowledge of how to develop, protect and extend current public policy measures to prevent an industry that aggressively promotes harmful products that kill and harm people every day. That tobacco industry spends approximately $7 billion a year on cigarettes alone. Do you realize just how profitable this industry is? And that the tobacco industry is basically run on animal flesh that may not even be fresh when it leaves the factory or barn. The tobacco companies spend millions supporting anti-smoking campaigns and funding research into safe tobacco alternatives that might someday render their product unnecessary. But these facts don’t answer the question: How big is the tobacco industry?
The tobacco industry giants invest heavily in advertisements funded by advertising giants, including CBS, Time Warner, Disney, and pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. They also invest heavily in public relations campaigns that promote smoking as “normal”, healthy and good for your body. The tobacco companies continue to claim that cigarettes help to reduce lung cancer while disregarding the fact that smoking causes all kinds of diseases and health issues, and that all tobacco products contribute to tobacco-induced cancers, such as oral, cervical and colon cancers. They also claim that smoking is “essential for people who are heavy smokers” and that “some teenagers cannot quit despite heavy smoking”. If these statements about smoking’s importance were true, then why wouldn’t there be more people alive today who never smoked and still live longer than those who smoke?
Smoking is not “normal”, healthy or “good” for you. It is a highly addictive habit that destroys your body and reduces your quality of life. It is estimated that approximately half the world’s population suffers from chronic diseases attributable to tobacco use, including lung cancer and lung disease, heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Smoking harms your overall health and increases the risk of various kinds of cancer. It is the most addictive substance known to man and it has proven to be one of the leading causes of death among American adults.
How big is the tobacco industry in United States? About five billion dollars a year is spent on cigarette ads in the four national media markets. About one in every four people live in the States and half of those live in areas where cigarette use is both customary and widespread. About a quarter of the people who buy cigarettes do so using a pay check from the tobacco industry. This means that more than 24 million Americans purchase cigarettes on a monthly basis and about six million kids between the ages of twelve and seventeen have tried smoking at least once.
A recent study showed that among teenagers, daily cigarette use accounts for about two thousand deaths because of cancer and heart disease. This comes to an alarming figure, as there are several ways in which teenagers can get addicted to cigarettes. The most common is through social, recreational, technological and other media activities. Another way in which teenagers become addicted to smoking is through the use of fake cigarettes called chew toys. While it is difficult to imagine the health consequences of this overuse of tobacco, one cannot overlook the fact that the tobacco company has spent millions upon millions of dollars marketing its product to teenagers each year.
Recently, there has been a major political pressure campaign against tobacco companies in the United Kingdom. Several politicians have come out against tobacco companies and several of them have introduced bills that would regulate smoking within the country. The British government has implemented a smoking ban in public places like bars and restaurants. It is estimated that about three million people a year die from tobacco related diseases. It is high time that we start tracking all the smokers in the UK and make a list of those who are taking deadly tobacco risks every single day.
The tobacco industry lobby is spending vast amounts of money to fight off these efforts by making vicious attacks on the scientific facts about tobacco’s ill effects on humans. We know that smoking kills more people than cancer, AIDS, HIV and other deadly diseases put together. If the supreme court would find merit in these facts and start putting tobacco companies under control, then perhaps all of this would change, and the world would be a better place.