Today is the 25th anniversary of World No Tobacco Day.
Do you know what's at stake?
According to the World Health Organization, 6 million people die from tobacco use each year around the world, and 600,000 of those deaths are from second-hand smoke.
A new report, released today by Gallup-Healthways, shows just who's still smoking in the U.S. -- and Kentucky is the state that tops the list. More than one in four people (27.6 percent) in the state reported smoking last year.
Earlier this year, a report by the World Lung Foundation showed that if tobacco use trends continue how they're going now, there will be 1 billion tobacco-related deaths during this century, Reuters reported.
A new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that even though we're infiltrated with special "days" celebrating all sorts of causes, World No Tobacco Day seems to actually make a difference. Johns Hopkins researchers found that Internet search queries about smoking cessation jump by as much as 84 percent on World No Tobacco Day, compared with other days of the year.
"The majority of smokers do want to quit, and World No Tobacco Day is an effective reminder and inspiration," study researcher Joanna Cohen, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Institute for Global Tobacco Control, said in a statement.
"This research encourages all of us to continue the long fight against tobacco," she added. "But we should never let down our guard against the tobacco industry's devious tactics to undo the public health gains we have been able to make."
In the U.S., in particular, cigarette use is responsible for about one in five deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In men, the habit is responsible for about 90 percent of deaths from lung cancer; in women, it's 80 percent.
The new Gallup-Healthways poll, based on phone survey results from 353,492 people around the U.S., shows just that about one in five people -- 20.8 percent -- said they smoked in 2011.
Over the decades, smoking rates in the U.S. have decreased. These days, the smoking rate is much lower than those in the 1940s to 1970s, when smoking topped out around 40 percent, according to Gallup.
"The annual celebration of World No Tobacco Day provides an opportunity to remind us of the dangers of tobacco use. Although, here in the U.S., we have made progress in the use of tobacco, both here and around the world, use and exposure to tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death," said Dr. Ann Wending, M.D., MPH, medical director of Tobacco Cessation at Healthways.
"In addition to policies that discourage the use and exposure to tobacco, there are many support programs available to help tobacco users successfully quit their tobacco habit," Wending added. "Whereas only a few percent of smokers successfully quit on their own, evidence-based programs such as telephone quitlines and web-based programs along with quit medication, have been shown to help break the physical, psychological and behavioral addiction to tobacco. The cascade of beneficial health effects begins almost immediately."
For a look at the new Gallup-Healthways data on smoking rates by state, from lowest to highest, click through the slideshow:
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