Cigarette Smoking Health Risks Increase - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Cigarette Smoking Health Risks Increase

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Experts predict one out of 13 children under the age of 18 in the United States will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases if current smoking rates do not drop.

That's according to the Surgeon General report released on Friday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mike Henson began smoking cigarettes when he was 12 years old. He used to smoke over a pack a day.

"Now, I've cut down to one to two a day," said Henson. "When I was growing up,  I would watch my grandma smoke. I knew it was bad, but I never thought it would affect me."

He said now, 18 years later smoking has affected his health and has become a financial burden.

"I've definitely noticed a difference when I ride a bike, run or hike. I'm out of breathe a lot quicker than other people," said Henson. "You will save so much money not smoking cigarettes. I was spending $7 a day on a pack of cigarettes and that adds up real quick."

The report also says that youth smoking rates have declined by half between 1997 and 2011.

But, still each day another 3,200 children under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette and another 2,100 become daily smokers.

Ita Killeen is the Chief Medical Officer for the Montana State University Student Health Service.

She said lung cancer is still one of the biggest health conditions caused by smoking.
But, other health effects can start to show right away.

"A young person immediately may notice that they get more sinus and respiratory issues," said Kileen, "They may also realize that their exercise tolerance goes down."

The report also now links smoking to liver cancer and colorectal cancer, the fourth most diagnosed form of disease in the U.S.

Killeen said when a young person smokes, they are also affecting their brain development.

"Brains are still forming up until the mid-twenties, so exposing the bran to foreign substances such as tobacco and nicotine while the brain is still developing can be very harmful," said Killeen.

The report also reveals that smoking in the U.S. has put more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and other economic costs.

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