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January 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's landmark report that tied smoking to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other illnesses.
In 1964, 42 percent of Americans were smokers. The numbers have dropped — down to 18 percent in 2012.
In fact some insurance companies are dropping the non-smokers discount as the decrease in smokers has led to a drop in related fires and health problems.
But what about young people and smoking?
Leon Neyfakh is 28 and he writes about his own love affair with smoking during college for the Boston Globe magazine.
Even after many decades and the irrefutable scientific evidence, smoking still holds a rebellious appeal for some young people, despite the disapproval of their peers, as Neyfakh writes in the Globe magazine:
While it’s undeniably true that by the end of my four years I felt more and more as if my friends and I were being judged by our nonsmoking classmates for our nasty habit, the truth is I liked feeling as though others saw me as a fearless off-putting outsider. I remember lighting up a cigarette at graduation, wearing my black robe, and being rather pleased with myself as the people around me looked with eyes that asked, “Is nothing sacred?” But not long after I left school, the romance started to fade.
However, Neyfakh writes that health policy experts predict e-cigarettes will become the next trend. E-cigarettes do not have the carcinogenic compounds of cigarettes, but do contain nicotine, the addictive compound in tobacco.
Neyfakh joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss smoking trends.
This segment aired on January 3, 2014.