Tobacco control has saved millions of lives
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the very first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, and in a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association researchers have estimated that efforts controlling tobacco in the last five decades have saved 8 million lives.
The researchers derived their results by conducting a study to model reductions in smoking-related mortality associated with implementation of tobacco control since 1964. Actual smoking-related deaths from 1964 through 2012 were compared with estimated deaths under no tobacco control.
Since 1964, the researchers were able to attribute 17.7 million deaths to smoking-related complications. During that same time period, an estimated reduction of 8 million premature smoking-attributable deaths (or “lives saved”) was associated with tobacco control. The estimated number of lives saved each year has increased steadily over time.
“Those efforts by governments, voluntary organizations, and the private sector—education on smoking dangers, increases in cigarette taxes, smoke-free air laws, media campaigns, marketing and sales restrictions, lawsuits, and cessation treatment programs—have comprised the nation’s tobacco control efforts,” according to background information on the study.
The researchers also claim, “Today, a half century after the surgeon general’s first pronouncement on the toll that smoking exacts from U.S. society, nearly a fifth of U.S. adults continue to smoke, and smoking continues to claim hundreds of thousands of lives annually. No other behavior comes close to contributing so heavily to the nation’s mortality burden. Tobacco control has been a great public health success story but requires continued efforts to eliminate tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.”
According to Dr. Adam Posner, a pulmonologist with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., “Smoking is just about the worst thing you can do to your body. It damages your lungs, heart and vascular system, and also your skin. We must continue to discourage this behavior, especially among teens.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers five quick tips for quitting smoking, along with many other resources that smokers can access to get help quitting.
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