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Implications of Neurobiology on Addiction: Roundtable

December 8, 2008: The Role of Nicotine Addiction in Tobacco Use

Introduction: Tobacco Use Prevalence Trends and High Risk Groups

Moderators: Ellen R. Gritz, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Key messages:

  • The prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults in the U.S. has finally gone below 20% and in 2007 was at 19.7% overall.
  • However, striking differences remain among subgroups of the population, particularly among American Indian/Alaska Natives with the highest prevalence and Asian Americans the lowest.
  • The greatest disparities in cigarette smoking occur in adults with the least amount of education and the lowest SES.
  • Prevalence of smoking among 9–12th graders seems to be flattening after many years of decline, and therefore it is important to redouble prevention efforts with youth.
  • New products, particularly smokeless tobacco, are cause for great concern particularly among the young adult population.
  • Smoking prevalence among persons with chronic disease is also cause for great concern. Dr. Gritz found that up to 30-50% of patients who smoked when diagnoses with cancer do not quit, or relapse following initial quit attempts.
  • Smoking cessation interventions should be tailored to patients with cancer to educate about the link between the disease and smoking and the adverse effects of continued smoking on treatment outcomes for cancer.
  • Another growing public health problem is cigarette smoking among persons living with HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of smoking among this population is very high—45–65%. These smokers have a significantly elevated risk of mortality compared to non-smokers, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • Research relating to tobacco and tobacco-related diseases is severely underfunded relative to its public health burden of death and disease.

Following her introductory remarks, Dr. Gritz introduced the first panel member.

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