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

shed light on the relationship, Pesko chose two domestic terrorist attacks and examined data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which tracks annual rates of risky personal behavior across the nation. Health departments in every state conduct monthly phone surveys of residents, asking about seat-belt use, smoking and drinking habits, the last time they visited a doctor or dentist, etc. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then aggregates that data and extrapolates it into an annual, nationally representative report. Since the same questions are asked yearly, responses can be compared over time, Dr. Pesko says. He chose to examine self-reported days of stress and what he considers to be a bona fide stress response -- whether former smokers begin smoking again.

Dr. Pesko compared 1,657,985 responses to the nationally representative questionnaire, and extrapolated that from the fourth quarter of 2001 through 2003, when the study ended, between 950,000 and 1.3 million adult former smokers resumed smoking, representing a 2.3 percent increase in adult smokers across the country. There was no increase in the months and years following the Oklahoma City bombing.

"I was really surprised to find that former smokers across the nation resumed their old habit," Dr. Pesko says. "I was expecting to see impacts just in the New York City area -- or, at most, the tri-state area."

He estimated the cost to government of 9/11-induced smoking at $530 million to $830 million, and potentially higher if the smoking continued beyond 2003. These figures represent changes in the use of Medicare and Medicaid, productivity losses associated to illness from smoking, and decreased tax revenue linked to lost work. The figure also takes into account increased tax revenue from cigarette purchases.

The study findings suggest a potential public health response to future stress-inducing events, says Dr. Pesko. One possibility would be progr
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Contact: Griffin Schwed
Grs3001@med.cornell.edu
646-317-7402
Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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