Surgeon General Adds More to the List of Dangers from Smoking
It was fifty years ago when the United States' Surgeon General first tied smoking cigarettes to several deadly health conditions, such as heart disease and lung cancer. Since then, several studies have researched the side effects of smoking and found even more evidence that smoking is bad for one's overall health. Now, the Acting Surgeon General, Boris D. Lushniak has added several more diseases on the list.
According to Lushniak, smoking causes the four-most-diagnosed type of disease, colorectal cancer and liver cancer. On top of these two fatal conditions, he stated that smoking also contributes to type 2 diabetes mellitus, erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking can also hinder the immune system from working at its highest capacity, putting the body at risk of infections. It can also worsen asthma, cause strokes and increase a fetus's risk of having cleft lips and palates.
"The conclusions from these reports have evolved from a few causal associations in 1964 to a robust body of evidence documenting health consequences both from active smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke across a range of diseases and organ systems," Lushniak wrote reported by the Washington Post. "A half century after the release of the first report, we continue to add to the long list of diseases caused by tobacco use and exposure."
The report stated that within the last half century, smoking could be tied to over 20 million deaths in the U.S. From 1965 to 2012, the percentage of adult smokers has declined from 42 percent to 18 percent. However, children and young adults continue to light up. The report stated that if nothing is done to change the current trends of smoking, roughly 5.6 million children could be at risk of dying with nearly 3,200 children trying their first cigarette every day.
"Enough is enough. We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation," Lushniak said reported by FOX News. "It's not just the federal lead on this anymore. To get this done, we have to go to industry. We have to go to healthcare providers and remind them that this problem is not yet solved."
Smoking not only causes premature death, it also costs the healthcare system a lot of money. The report calculated that medical costs for smoking costs roughly $130 billion per year with another $150 billion lost per year in productivity. Due to all these reasons, getting people to stop and others to avoid cigarettes is vital.
"It's a winnable fight," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We actually have the policies and programs to end the tobacco epidemic, and they don't cost so much they can't be implemented quickly."