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Smokers Remain Unaware of the Health Effects of Smoking, New Survey Finds
Date:11/13/2007

Findings indicate smokers harbor profound misperceptions about the effects

of smoking and the treatments designed to help them quit

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite major efforts to educate the public on the dangers of smoking over the past 40 years, a new national survey conducted by the American Legacy Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, an industry leader in smoking cessation, indicates major knowledge gaps exist in what smokers believe to be true about the risks associated with smoking compared the actual realities of tobacco-related disease and death. Experts believe these misperceptions may prevent smokers from trying to quit and successfully utilizing proven smoking cessation treatments.

According to the survey, while many smokers are aware that smoking can lead to serious health problems including lung cancer, many underestimate the risk of getting the disease from smoking. For example, two in three smokers underestimate the chance of developing lung cancer compared to a non-smoker and four in 10 incorrectly believe that developing lung cancer depends more on genes than anything else. Furthermore, the survey found that up to a third of smokers think that certain activities such as exercise and taking vitamins could "undo" most of the effects of smoking.(1)

"What is alarming about these survey findings is that so many smokers are still so misinformed," said Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. "Proven cessation treatments like nicotine replacement therapy continue to be underutilized and we believe these misperceptions are partly to blame. These findings point to the fact that more needs to be done to educate and inform smokers."

Misperceptions about the effects of nicotine found in cigarettes remain at the forefront. Almost all survey respondents (81 to 86 percent) either were unsure whether, or incorrectly believed that, nicotine caused cancer, emphysema
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SOURCE American Legacy Foundation; GlaxoSmithKline ConsumerHealthcare
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