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Stress from 9/11 linked to nationwide resurgence in smoking among Americans who had quit
Date:6/20/2013

NEW YORK (June 20, 2013) -- The 9/11 attacks on America appear to have caused about one million former smokers across the country to take up the habit again and maintain it, according to a Weill Cornell Medical College public health study.

The analysis, published in the June 20 issue of the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, is the first to look at the net costs to society of terrorism-induced smoking in the United States after 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

"This helps us better understand what the real costs of such disasters are in human and economic tolls, and it suggests ways that such future stressful reactions that result in excess smoking might be avoided," says the study's author, Dr. Michael F. Pesko, an instructor in Weill Cornell Medical College's Department of Public Health.

While the Oklahoma City bombing didn't affect smoking rates in the U.S., Pesko suggests that 9/11 caused a significant 2.3 percent increase nationwide. The increase started after 9/11 and continued through the end of 2003, when analysis of the data ended, he says.

Self-reported stress was also found to especially increase in communities with a higher concentration of active-duty and reserve members of the military, and among higher-educated groups. The increase in stress following 9/11 was found to account for all of the increase in smoking.

"This study provides the first unbiased estimate of the effect of stress on smoking, and the finding that there was such a big increase in smoking nationwide, seemingly due to one event, is extraordinary, and surprising," says Dr. Pesko. "It sheds light on a hidden cost of terrorism."

Dr. Pesko has long been interested in the relationship between stress and substance abuse. "There is a consensus in the research community that stress is a very large motivator for individuals to use substances, but this has not really been studied very thoroughly," he says.

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Contact: Griffin Schwed
Grs3001@med.cornell.edu
646-317-7402
Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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