Report Says The Effect Was National

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Roughly one million people who had kicked the habit went back to smoking because of the stress of 9/11, according to a newly published report.

“Former smokers used smoking as a coping mechanism to try to alleviate that higher stress,” study author Dr. Michael Pesko of Weill Cornell Medical College told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

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The analysis, published in the June 20 issue of the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, is the first to look at the net costs to society of terrorism-induced smoking in the United States after 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, according to the college.

“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,” said Pesko. “It sheds light on a hidden cost of terrorism.”

The study said that there was no effect on the smoking rate from the Oklahoma City bombing, but 9/11 caused it to spike 2.3 percent nationwide.

Pesko has two thoughts about what to do with the information.

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“One would be the idea of providing free or reduced-price nicotine replacement therapy. Second, physicians they may wish to screen for tobacco use more in the wake of national disasters like 9/11,” Pesko said.

Pesko added that this increase in smoking was costly to us all.

“9/11-induced smoking had a cost to the government of between $530 million to $830 million,” he said.

Those numbers are based on changes in the use of Medicare and Medicaid, productivity losses associated to illness from smoking, and decreased tax revenue linked to lost work.

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