Approximately 5.6 million American children alive today – or one out of every 13 children under age 18 – will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases in their lifetime unless current smoking rates drop, according to a recent Surgeon General’s report.
Over the last 50 years, more than 20 million Americans have died from smoking. The report concludes that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans a year, with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related conditions. It puts the price tag of smoking in this country at more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and other economic costs.
“Smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did when the first Surgeon General’s report was released in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes,” said Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. “How cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain have changed over the years, and some of those changes may be a factor in higher lung cancer risks. Of all forms of tobacco, cigarettes are the most deadly – and cause medical and financial burdens for millions of Americans.”
“Over the last 50 years tobacco control efforts have saved 8 million lives but the job is far from over,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. “This report provides the impetus to accelerate public health and clinical strategies to drop overall smoking rates to less than 10% in the next decade. Our nation is now at a crossroads, and we must choose to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all.”
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