Last week, the Surgeon General released its 32nd report on smoking – marking 50 years since the first Surgeon General’s report on the subject warned of smoking’s health effects.
The report attributes more than 20 million premature deaths since the 1964 report. Additionally, the report notes that economic costs due to tobacco use now top $289 billion—including productivity losses and the costs of direct medical care, and more than a half a million adults will prematurely die this year because of smoking.
The good news is that considerable progress has been made in the last 50 years. In fact, smoking rates have been cut by more than half, and the public perception of smoking has shifted dramatically.
The report recommends a number of steps to rapidly reduce the use of cigarettes. Recommendations include the continuation and expansion of effective programs and policies like tobacco taxes, smoke-free policies, cessation programs, and statewide tobacco control programs along with newer concepts like nicotine content reduction and greater sales restrictions.
With nearly 42 million adults and another 3.5 million middle and high school students that still smoke, there is clearly progress that can be made.