Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Smoking, Health, Decline, Policy, Emergency Management, Disaster, Hazard, Advertising

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/09/20

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The Decline in Smoking in the U.S. and the Causes Behind It All


During the last decade, smoking has been on the decline in the U.S. The health hazards of smoking have long been known, and although these health hazards certainly have an impact on tobacco usage, it is the recent trends in advertising and the changes in policy that have ultimately led to the steady decline of tobacco use. Furthermore, healthcare providers also affect this trend as new healthcare policies only take smoking into account. With a culture that continues to grow in more healthy directions, the need and allure of smoking has become close to nonexistent. These three factors, health hazards and the healthcare providers approach to smoking, advertisements, and cultural trends towards a healthier lifestyle all contribute to the drop in tobacco usage.

The Decline in Smoking and the Causes Behind It All

Smoking kills. This phrase is common knowledge, and most everyone would have heard this at some point in their lives. Still, through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, smoking gained more and more popularity. Almost suddenly, it seems, smoking has been on a steep decline in the U.S., but who or what is responsible? The health hazards have long been known, so there is a slim chance that this is the cause behind why so many people have begun to stop smoking. The most influential factors that have led to the decline in smoking in the U.S. are not only health hazards but the health insurance providers’new policies, advertising, and the newest cultural trend towards healthier living including one important policy change by lawmakers.
The health hazards of smoking are nearly endless. Smoking leads to all sorts of cancer, heart disease, and so many others. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “smoking causes approximately 443,000 deaths each year in the United States” (“Smoking,” 2014). Regardless of this fact, people continue to smoke. In 1964, the number of users declined due to the Surgeon General’s Warning (“Smoking,” 2014), but there were still steady users, particularly young people. Now, the decline seems to have accelerated, but the knowledge of negative health effects is out there. So why would tobacco use be declining if the same information is out there? The answer lies with health insurance providers. Most recently, the Affordable Care Act revolutionized the healthcare system. The Act was established to provide quality care to everyone regardless of income or preexisting conditions. One major consequence of this was that health insurance providers could not deny coverage for preexisting conditions. However, they could ask one question: are you a smoker? The answer to this question would raise or lower the monthly premium. Instead of just the negative health effects that smokers had to contend with, this new policy spoke to them economically, which had a significant effect along with rising taxes and cost of cigarettes. According to a 2008 research report, “a $1.00 increase in tax would reduce smoking prevalence by about 9%-20%” (Minor &Sondike, 2014, p. 18).Still, it would take more than the economic convincing, which is why it is a combination of things that truly led to the decline in smoking in the U.S.
The second reason smoking has declined in the U.S. is because of the aggressive anti-smoking advertising that seemed to sweep the country. The most notable of these advertisements was “Truth,” of which still airs today. This massive advertising campaign coupled with a decline in tobacco-related products advertisements have had a stunning effect, especially on the youth. Furthermore, the use of social networks and social branding aimed at intervention and smoking cessation like “HAVOC” have also led to the decline in smoking. A study done in 2011 and 2012 that experimented with social branding found that intervention using social branding did, in fact, lead to a decline in smoking (Fallin et al., 2015). This is one example of cultural trends that have been used in a similar way to advertising, but it is more of these trends that are truly the unsung heroes in the decline in smoking.
Perhaps the most influential factor leading to the decline in smoking is the cultural trends of the modern day. Every day there are new diet and health trends being diffused through social media and online and just in everyday conversations. People are remarkably more health conscious these days, and there is evidence in the supermarkets and even at restaurants. People exercise more, eat healthier, and, yes, stop smoking. One major policy change that reflected this healthier lifestyle was the smoking ban in public places. This policy has taken the U.S. by storm, and there are very few public places that still allow smoking. When it first appeared, it was a bit controversial, but the policy is now largely supported by all.The way it works, Kristin Voigt states, is that “smoking bans may influence smokingbehavior by signaling that smoking is regarded as socially undesirable, thereby causing smokers to feel shame” (2014, p. 351). That being the case, the trends that were once focused on smoking as “cool” have switched. Being healthy is the new trend and this has phased out some of the previous trends like smoking.
The effects have all been the same: a decline in smoking in the U.S. among all age groups. Even though there are still many of users worldwide, the general smoking trend in the U.S. is slowly on the decline, and if cultural trends are anything to go by, those numbers will continue to decline. It is all thanks to these three contributing factors: health hazards and the health insurance providers’ policy changes, the advertising campaigns against smoking, and the new cultural trends towards a healthier lifestyle. These seem to be the major causes behind the smoking decline at the moment, but this list is not exhaustive. People are just getting clued in, realizing that it just isn’t worth smoking.


Fallin, A., Neilands, T. B., Jordan, J. W., Hong, J. S., & Ling, P. M. (2015). Wreaking "Havoc"
on Smoking. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48(1), S78-S85. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA394818470&v=2.1&u=lom_accessmich&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=7810a9097076926d171db344b9040956
Minor, M., &Sondike, S. (2014). Adolescent smoking cessation methods: a review article. West
Virginia Medical Journal, 110(4), 16+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA378368683&v=2.1&u=lom_accessmich&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=7f58f4348ecf0713c0132079de50efdd
Smoking. (2014). Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from
Voigt, K. (2014). Nudging, shaming and stigmatising to improve population health: comment on
"Nudging by shaming, shaming by nudging". International Journal of Health Policy and
Management, 3(6), 351+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA391597168&v=2.1&u=lom_accessmich&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=72865de62efbea00850ac367e0c36751

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