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Smoking ailments consumes health care resources

Published: January 12, 2013

President Obama recently advised House Speaker John Boehner that our growing debt and deficit is in his opinion largely a direct result of our health care system. The president previously opined that the greed of physicians, hospital administrators, insurance executives, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device makers is the root cause of the growing costs of health care. Similarly, The New York Times published a piece in which the author criticized the existence of “profit” within the health care system and pointed to “profit” as a key driver of escalating costs.

When will society and government officials, including the president, face the reality of what is the true primary cause of skyrocketing costs within our health care system? Cigarette smoking and the multitude of ailments that directly result from this activity is without question the single greatest factor responsible for the consumption of precious health care resources. If we're ever going to get serious about reining in health care costs, we need to do everything at our disposal in order to curb the use of cigarettes.

Turning our heads the other way is no longer an option. Smoking needs to be reduced or eliminated once and for all. While prohibition might be an unrealistic initial goal, another option merits consideration. Since those in the lower socioeconomic sectors of society account for a disproportionate percentage of smokers, perhaps government assistance should be reduced or withheld from households that aren't cigarette-free.

J. William Kinsinger, Oklahoma City