A pound of cure
health for your
Crash-related deaths are largely prevent-able, and improvements have been made.
Between 2000 and 2009, the number of
miles traveled by motor vehicles nationwide
increased by 8. 5 percent, yet the injury rate
declined. Big drops occurred for children,
with 49 percent fewer pedestrian deaths and
58 percent fewer bicycle deaths.
While safer roadways, safer vehicles and
safer road use continue to make a difference, it’s the changes in behavior that have a
major impact in reducing crash deaths. The
best examples of behavior change include:
■ Passing and enforcing effective seat belt
laws in 49 states and the District of Columbia
(What’s up, New Hampshire?)
■ Passing and enforcing effective legislation to protect children riding in cars and
using safety seats in all 50 states
■ Adoption of graduated driver licensing
policies for teens, admitting young beginners
to full driving privileges in phases (
implemented to varying degrees in most states and
the District of Columbia)
AGE FOTOS TOCK/BILL CARLSON
By David Wight
DURING THE 20th century in the U.S., life
expectancy at birth increased by 62 percent,
from 47 years in 1900 to 76 years in 2000—a
nearly 30-year increase. Improvement in the
health status of all age groups was reported.
Is it likely that the 21st century will see a
comparable advance in public health?
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention were asked by its publication
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report to
nominate noteworthy public health accomplishments in the first decade of the new century, between 2000 and 2010. Here’s a look at
a few of their nominations that have had
major impacts on public health.
percent of the front and rear of each pack are
required on packaging by September 2012.
Secondhand smoke exposure results in
an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths
and 3,400 lung cancer
deaths among nonsmoking adults in the U.S. each
year, according to the
American Cancer Society.
In 2000, no state had
a comprehensive smoke-free law, but by 2010, 25
states and the District of Columbia had
enacted smoke-free laws that prohibit smoking in all private indoor areas—worksites, restaurants, bars—to protect nonsmokers from
involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke.
The U.S. was the first country to put a
health warning label on cigarette packages,
starting in 1966. Despite progress made to
reduce tobacco use, smoking still results in
an economic burden of approximately $193
billion per year in medical costs and lost
In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gained the authority to regulate
tobacco products. By 2010, the FDA had
banned flavored cigarettes and established
restrictions on youth access. New warning
labels that will graphically depict the negative
consequences of smoking and will cover 50
APRIL 2012 The Costco Connection 47
Focus on disease prevention
Many of the nominated health accom-
plishments focused on preventing one or more
of the 15 leading causes of death, including:
The current childhood immunization
schedule prevents an estimated 42,000 deaths
and 20 million cases of disease, with net sav-
ings of nearly $14 billion in direct costs and
$69 billion in indirect costs.
Combining classic public health tools—
observation systems, guideline dissemination
and taking action on research findings—with
effective use of newer tools, such as regulatory
and taxation measures—appears to be a good
route for matching or beating the public
health advancements of the last century. C
The U.S. was the
first country to put a
health warning label
on cigarette packages,
starting in 1966.
Motor vehicle safety
Motor vehicle crashes are among the top
10 causes of death in the U.S., and are the leading cause of death for 5- to 34-year olds. In
2007, motor vehicle crashes ranked third—
behind cancer and heart disease—in terms of
potential life lost before age 65. In economic
terms, crashes account for an estimated $99
billion in medical and lost-work costs annually.
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find smoking cessation
products, child safety seats, prescription
medications, dietary aids and select vaccination services at their local Costco.