“Enough is enough!” Those were the words spoken by Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak when presenting findings from the newly released U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress,” alongside public health leaders last week at the White House. The report highlights the progress made in tobacco control since the first surgeon general’s report on the topic 50 years ago, and presents new data on the harmful health effects of smoking.
Among the report’s findings, colon, rectal and liver cancer have been identified as consequences of smoking, along with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and erectile dysfunction. Further, disease risk for women who smoke has risen, with women now at the same risk of dying from smoking as men.
The report also outlines a plan for further eradicating the tobacco epidemic. While noting the progress made in limiting tobacco use over the past 50 years, the surgeon general and other health leaders , and echoed the same sentiment in Friday’s presentation: there is much more work to be done.
“We’re still a country very much addicted to tobacco,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “If we fail to act, we’ll continue to lose the lives of those we love.”
“It is time to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all, and it shouldn’t take another 50 years,” asserted HHS Assistant Secretary Howard Koh.
According to the report, if changes are not made to reverse the current trends, 5.6 million young Americans today will die prematurely. The leaders and report encourage the use of evidence-based tobacco control interventions, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tips from Former Smokers Campaign, and proper funding for such programs and other control policies. CDC Director Tom Frieden explained that while $80 per person, per year is collected in tobacco taxes, less than $1.50 per person per year is spent on tobacco prevention. Further, the tobacco industry spends approximately $28 per person per year on marketing
With tobacco having killed more than 20 million people prematurely since 1964, and continued tobacco influence on youth, health leaders encourage a renewed call to action to end the harmful health consequences of smoking.
Said Sebelius at Friday’s presentation, “Roll up your sleeves, we have just begun.”