Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Sept. 11 Attacks Drove Nearly 1 Million Americans Back to Smoking

Study did not find similar effect after Oklahoma City bombing

  • Print

THURSDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- In a hidden health effect of terrorism, about 1 million former smokers in the United States started smoking again after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a new study finds.

The research found that smoking increased 2.3 percent nationwide after the 9/11 attacks. The increase was maintained until the end of 2003, when the researchers' analysis of data ended.

The study also found especially high increases in stress levels after Sept. 11 in communities with higher percentages of active-duty and reserve members of the military, and among higher-educated people. The rise in stress levels accounted for all of the increase in smoking, said the researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

"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," study author Michael Pesko, an instructor in the department of public health, said in a college news release. "It sheds light on a hidden cost of terrorism."

The findings were published online recently in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.

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

Pesko said the estimated cost to the government of increased smoking after Sept. 11 was between $530 million and $830 million, and may be higher if the smoking continued beyond 2003. The costs include Medicare and Medicaid expenses, productivity losses associated with smoking-related illnesses and decreased tax revenue from lost work.

The findings suggest a potential public health response to deal with stress caused by future terrorist attacks or disasters, Pesko said. One idea would be to offer free nicotine-replacement therapy soon after the event.

"Another strategy would be to alert health professionals to do more substance-abuse screening during regular medical appointments following terrorist attacks, or any such event that is likely to stress the nation," he said.

Pesko also looked at the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing but did not find an increase in smoking after that terrorist attack.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about stress.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Spring fashion trends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google