Your Risk of Developing Cancer From Smoking Is Higher Today Than 50 Years Ago

The tobacco industry is more aggressive about cigarette manufacturing, a new surgeon general report concludes.

A man smokes a cigarette on September 6, 2012 in Paris.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Clara Ritger
Jan. 17, 2014, 4:58 a.m.

Smoking has killed 10 times the num­ber of Amer­ic­ans who have died in all of the na­tion’s wars com­bined, wrote Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us in a re­port re­leased Fri­day.

Each day, 2,100 young adults who are oc­ca­sion­al smokers make it a daily habit. The new sur­geon gen­er­al re­port says 5.6 mil­lion chil­dren un­der the age of 18 who are alive today will die pre­ma­turely un­less U.S. smoking rates drop.

Some 443,000 Amer­ic­ans die from smoking-re­lated causes each year. The U.S. has more than halved smoking rates since the land­mark re­port from Sur­geon Gen­er­al Luth­er Terry was re­leased 50 years ago, the first re­port to con­nect smoking with lung can­cer. Today, smoking is tied to throat can­cer and kid­ney and heart dis­ease, and the 2014 re­port adds dia­betes, colorectal and liv­er can­cer, rheum­at­oid arth­rit­is, erectile dys­func­tion, and age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion to the grow­ing list of smoking-re­lated dis­eases.

“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 in a press re­lease. “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.”

Pub­lic-health meas­ures en­acted in the years fol­low­ing the his­tor­ic sur­geon gen­er­al re­port have saved more than 8 mil­lion lives. The U.S. has stead­ily in­creased the to­bacco taxes at the state and fed­er­al level to dis­in­centiv­ize new smokers and slow the num­ber of ci­gar­ettes con­sumed. The Af­ford­able Care Act re­quires most health in­sur­ance plans to cov­er smoking-ces­sa­tion ser­vices and in­creases fund­ing for pub­lic-edu­ca­tion ini­ti­at­ives. Anti-to­bacco groups con­tin­ue to pur­sue great­er reg­u­la­tion of the to­bacco in­dustry by the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, and smoke-free health laws have re­duced ex­pos­ure to second-hand smoke na­tion­wide.

But the U.S. spends more than $289 bil­lion an­nu­ally in med­ic­al care and lost pro­ductiv­ity as a res­ult of smoking.

The re­port says the to­bacco in­dustry “star­ted and sus­tained this epi­dem­ic us­ing ag­gress­ive mar­ket­ing strategies to de­lib­er­ately mis­lead the pub­lic about the harms of smoking,” a find­ing which has been up­held in a fed­er­al court. In­dustry-wide changes to ci­gar­ette design to en­hance the de­liv­ery of to­bacco have heightened the risk of can­cer, the re­port adds.

The full re­port is avail­able here.

What We're Following See More »
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
3 days ago
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
3 days ago

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.