Thursday, May 1, 2008

No Smoking

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) there will be 1.4 million new cases of cancer in the USA in 2008. ( Go to">
and download the excellent Powerpoint presentation for detailed cancer statistics). Lung and bronchial cancer will account for 14-15% of these new cases. Additionally, the ACS predicts 566,000 deaths from cancer in 2008. Lung cancer will account for 26% of all cancer deaths for women, and 31% of all cancer deaths for men. The ACS also says that “Smoking is responsible for about 87% of lung cancer deaths” and that “Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined” — see

Simple arithmetic shows that approximately 20% of Medicare’s cancer expenditures, or $4 billion, are for lung cancer caused by cigarettes. (Medicare’s expenditures for treating heart disease and emphysema secondary to cigarettes is probably another $10 billion, based on ACS data for heart and emphysema related deaths). Medicare Trustees recently reported that “Medicare hospital insurance spending is forecast to exceed tax revenues for 2008 and all future years and the fund will be exhausted in 2019″ And that’s just Medicare! Health insurance and out of pocket expenses for treating lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema in people under Medicare age probably accounts for another $10-15 billion dollars in cigarette related expenditures. Clearly Medicare spending on tobacco related diseases is the main reason for Medicare’s hastened insolvency.

How long are we going to allow tobacco to bankrupt Medicare and the healthcare system? The high cost of cancer drugs is minuscule compared to the damage being done by cigarettes.

Why are the presidential candidates not discussing tobacco--the leading cause of disease, death and healthcare expenditures in the USA by far?

Robert Cykiert, M.D.
Comment by Robert Cykiert, M.D.