More Diseases Linked to Smoking

smokingFifty years after the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking, researchers are still linking the practice to even more diseases, leading public health officials to urge an even more forceful effort to reduce cigarette use.[1]

Current acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., said, “Today marks a new era in the fight against tobacco-related death and disease. Enough is enough.”1

In fact, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, immune dysfunction, tuberculosis, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and erectile dysfunction are all among the diseases that have been added to the growing list of evidence that supports a causal association with smoking.1 More recently, orofacial clefts in infants of women who smoke during pregnancy has been added, as well as stroke from secondhand smoke inhalation.1

Head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., said, “Amazingly, 50 years in, we’re still finding out new ways that tobacco maims and kills people.”1

While many still continue to smoke, the prevalence of cigarette smokers in the United States has dropped considerably since 1964, dropping from 42 percent then to 18 percent in 2012.1 However, nearly 45.5 million Americans continue with the habit.1 Since 1964, 20 million Americans have died prematurely from cigarette smoking or secondhand smoke.1 Another 16 million people live with smoking-related illnesses.1 As the chemicals in cigarettes have changed over the years, more smokers are likely to die of lung cancer.1

As a part of the federal “end-game strategy” efforts, the cost of a pack of cigarettes will go up by $0.94.1 The Surgeon General asks for physicians to be more involved with their patients that smoke.1 There needs to be an expansion of smoking cessation for all smokers in primary and specialty care settings, having health care providers examine how they can establish a strong standard of care for these effective treatments.1

[1] Surgeon General’s Report Links More Diseases to Smoking. Medscape. Jan 17, 2014.

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