The Effect of Tobacco and Obesity on Life Expectancy Rates of America and Europe

Why is it that Europeans have almost two years more in life expectancy than Americans, but their tobacco use is at an all-time high? With California passing the new Tobacco 21 Law, most Americans seem to understand the bad health effects of tobacco products; however, may be forgetting all the dangers of food.
As of June 2016, The California Department of Public Health put into action the California Tobacco 21 Law: The sale of tobacco products or electronic smoking devises to persons under 21 is prohibited. Hawaii was the first state to raise the minimum smoking age to 21. It is being discussed across the nation weather or not other states should follow in California and Hawaii’s footsteps with this law. Public health officials assuredly state that it would “literally be a life-saving measure.”

According to the World Lung Foundation and American Cancer Society, the average annual consumption can exceed 2,000 cigarettes per person per year in Europe, but Americans rank in the middle of the worldwide spectrum with a consumption rate of a thousand cigarettes consumed per person per year. There is no denying the harm done by tobacco products. Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death; however, obesity can be just as detrimental to our health if not more.

One in five American deaths are associated with obesity which is three times higher than previous estimates. Obesity-related deaths include those from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, cancer and more. The Journal of the American Medical Association recorded that one-third of Americans – or 78.6 million – are classified as obese. No state is able to claim an obesity rate below 20%. In contrast, the average rate of obesity across Europe is one in six adults, or 17% of the population.

There is a huge gap there between cigarette consumption, obesity rates, and life expectancy between these two countries. If Europeans live longer, but smoke more cigarettes we have to find it likely that obesity is the main culprit of death in the USA. The main difference between Europe and America is how we eat. Fredrick Patenaude from Renegade Health says, “In Europe, snacking is frowned upon, portion sizes are smaller and they value “slow food” or the joy of eating socially. As Americans we’re always on the go or in a rush, making the fast food chains here very successful. The ingredients here are also so much of a lower quality than they are in Europe.” Perhaps if Americans focused more on fixing such food related issues for our nation than creating new tobacco regulation laws, our life expectancy rate would catch up to other nations such as Europe.


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