Cancer nurse, Elisabeth Gunersen, from San Francisco was explaining the cost of smoking and the global human death toll (5 million annually) when he came out with the remark.
Smoking is known by virtually all addiction experts to be difficult to give up, and extremely hard for heavy smokers.
Although the percentage of the US adult population that smokes is much lower now than it was a few decades ago, the decline has stopped and hit a roadblock.
According to public data, over 20% of the US adult population smokes.
Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, of the American Cancer Society, wrote in response to Camilleri's remark:
"You have to be kidding. Cigarettes are incredibly addictive, and heavy smokers have a very difficult time quitting. Our statistics in this country show that for the most part our ability nationwide to reduce the number of chronic smokers has hit a roadblock.
.... Tobacco will kill over one billion people over the next century, which is likely more than any other man-made cause. So while Mr. Camilleri continues to book his profits and push his poisons, he also continues to show a remarkable ability to self-justify the truly awful behavior of his company throughout the world."
Nicotine and Nicotine AddictionThe main reason anybody smokes regularly is to get nicotine, a highly addictive substance, into their system rapidly. The most popular current smoking method is through cigarettes, followed by cigars, smoke pipes, etc.
More than one billion people worldwide are regular tobacco smokers.
Smoking in the USA:
- 23.1% of adult males smoke - 24.8 million men
- 18.3% of adult females smoke - 21.1 million women
- 443,000 die prematurely each year from tobacco smoking
- Almost 1 in every 5 deaths is from tobacco smoking
- Smoking causes more deaths than the following combined - HIV, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, murders, and illegal drug use
- Approximately one quarter of the adult population smokes
- 25% of adult males smoke
- 23% of adult females smoke
- Smoking is the biggest killer in the UK
- Smoking is the biggest cause of illness in the UK
- 114,000 die annually because of smoking
- The National Health Service says 70% of smokers would like to give up. Most think they can't.
- Half of all smokers in the country never manage to give up
As soon as the smoker's nicotine levels go down beyond a certain point, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms emerge, which temporarily go away when their body receives more nicotine through smoking tobacco.
Addiction experts say it is one of the most difficult of all addictions to break.
The tragedy with nicotine addiction is that the addict smokes in order to get his fix. Smoking involves consuming thousands of toxic substances which are present in tobacco smoke.
According to the US Surgeon General:
- Tobacco products are addicting
- Nicotine is the cause of the addiction (to tobacco products)
- Pharmacologic and behavioral characteristics that drive tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to heroin and cocaine
If the nicotine content of cigarettes and other tobacco products were gradually phased out completely, say over a ten-year period, cigarette smoking would plummet.