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Standard no-smoking sign

With a declining tobacco market, and younger smokers leaning towards marijuana and e-cigs, tobacco products might be off the shelf in the next 50 years or so. It’s about time.

For as long as anyone can remember, tobacco has been a part of American culture. It was only 50 years ago that Surgeon General Luther Terry published a report concluding that cigarettes are bad for our health. Since then, we’ve gone from commercials promoting cigarettes to commercials highlighting the health risks that come with smoking. Part of the reason why the tobacco industry still stands is that, like any other industry, it brings in revenue and stimulates the economy. But now, even the economic benefit of tobacco is questionable.

While the tobacco industry makes billions of dollars a year, the economy loses billions to tobacco-related causes as well. According to Charles Connor, President of the American Lung Association, “tobacco-related illness saps the country of more than $193 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity each year.” What this means is that it ultimately costs all of us to take care of those who suffer from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses resulting from tobacco products. And this is aside from lost productivity: the economic stimulation we won’t get from workers who die from tobacco. It’s obvious that the tobacco industry has problems in and of itself, but like most other markets, it also has competition.

Marijuana and e-cigs seem to be the trend among younger smokers. The health problems of smoking marijuana or e-cigs are still debatable; there are conflicting studies on whether or not smoking marijuana is a direct cause of death, and e-cigs are a relatively new product that hasn’t been observed long enough to determine if they’re safe in the long run. Despite the confusion, it seems that the general public is moving in favor of these instead of tobacco, likely due to the health risks of tobacco being common knowledge.

With its detriments to personal health and the economy, and with potential replacements already in play, tobacco is a bad seed just waiting to dry out for good. It’s only a matter of time.