HHS: Aggressive Strategy To Eliminate All Tobacco Use

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ABOVE VIDEO: CBS Evening News interviews acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, who discusses his recently released report on the 50 years of progress in combatting the health consequences of smoking and the new list of diseases caused by smoking.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Surgeon General recently released a new report on the 50 years of progress in combatting the health consequences of smoking. The MedPage Today article excerpted below chronicles the aggressive stance and strategy laid out by the Surgeon General to guide efforts to rapidly drop prevalence rates of smoking among youth and adults.

Dr. Howard Koh
Dr. Howard Koh

Siting the progress that has been made over the past 50 years, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh M.D., M.P.H. writes in the report: “The nation stands poised at the crossroads of tobacco control. On one hand, we can celebrate tremendous progress 50 years after the landmark 1964 Surgeon General’s report: Smoking and Health. Adult smoking rates have fallen from about 43% (1965) to about 18% today. Mortality rates from lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in this country, are declining. Most smokers visiting health care settings are now routinely asked and advised about tobacco use. On the other hand, cigarette smoking remains the chief preventable killer in America, with more than 40 million Americans caught in a web of tobacco dependence. Each day, more than 3,200 youth (younger than 18 years of age) smoke their first cigarette and another 2,100 youth and young adults who are occasional smokers progress to become daily smokers.”

 According to the report, smoking is responsible for 480,00 premature deaths and $176 billion in medical costs annually. The report also adds 10 diseases to the list of those that are affected by smoking.

Reflective of the government’s resolve to eradicate smoking, Dr. Koh says, “The current 2014 Surgeon General’s report represents a national vision for getting the job done. With strategy, commitment, and action, our nation can leave the crossroads and move forward to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all.”

—Dr. Jim Palermo

MEDPAGETODAY.COM–Cutting the nicotine content of tobacco products and greater restrictions on sales, “including bans on entire categories of tobacco products” are just two of the strategies for an “endgame” to stop all tobacco use suggested in a federal report released Friday.

It’s time for more aggressive tobacco control in a drive toward eradication of tobacco use, the Surgeon General and other public health officials urged Friday, noting further health effects that can be causally linked to smoking.

The report, marking the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s first report on the health effects of tobacco smoke, added diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, colorectal cancer, and other ailments to the already long list of the ill effects of tobacco use.

“It is time to commit to ending the tobacco epidemic once and for all, and it shouldn’t take another 50 years,” Howard Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for health of the Department of Health and Human Services, said at a press conference at the White House.

Banning tobacco entirely should be discussed on a societal level, acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, suggested at the press conference.

“We need to have that discussion,” he told reporters. “But until we do … the reality of the situation is we need to use the tobacco control tools we have available and ramp up, because at the end of the day if we are shooting for that tobacco-free generation, it is attainable using the tools we have.”

The report also called for raising excise taxes on cigarettes, extending indoor smoking bans to 100% of the population, and extending smoking cessation as a standard of care to all smokers in primary or specialty care.

CLICK HERE to read the complete story on Med Page Today.