Progress Against Tobacco Use. Yes. But…36 Million Smokers…Still

Lots of people are quitting cigarette smoking, current federal data  released  yesterday show, but there is a lot more to do to crash that fogged-up window of nasty tobacco use, with an uneven effort seen in too many states to enact tobacco prevention or control programs. Indeed, there are still 36 million smokers in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Sadly, nearly half (of the people) could die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses, including 6 million from cancer, unless we implement the programs that will help smokers quit,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement.

Forty percent of cancers diagnosed in the U.S. may have a link to tobacco use, according to the CDC’s Vital Signs report.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths. Each year, between 2009 and 2013, about 660,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with, and about 343,000 people died, from a type of cancer-related to tobacco use, according to the  CDC. Three in 10 cancer deaths are linked to cigarette smoking, but since 1990 about 1.3 million tobacco-related cancer deaths have been avoided, the agency said.

“When states invest in comprehensive cancer control programs – including tobacco control – we see greater benefits for everyone and fewer deaths from tobacco-related cancers,” said Lisa C. Richardson, director of CDC’s division of cancer prevention and control.

“We have made progress, but our work is not done,” Richardson said.

There has been progress indeed. Cigarette smoking among U.S. adults declined from 29.0 % (45.1 million) in 2005 to 15.1% (36.5 million) in 2015.

During 2014-2015 alone, there was a 1.7 percentage point decline, resulting in the lowest prevalence of adult cigarette smoking since the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey began collecting data in 1965.

The CDC has touted “comprehensive cancer control programs” that the agency says “focuses on reducing cancer risk, detecting cancer early and improving cancer treatments.” That helps more people survive cancer, or improve survivors’ quality of life.

But “not all states or all people have experienced the benefits of these efforts,” the CDC says, noting: “tobacco prevention and control resources, along with access to medical care and cancer treatment, vary widely across the U.S.”

The incidence and death rates were highest:

  • Among African-Americans compared with other races or ethnicities
  • People who live in counties with a low proportion of college graduates
  • People who live in counties with high poverty levels.

Tobacco use was highest in the Northeast (202 per 100,000 people) and lowest in the West, (17 per 100,000 people). Tobacco-related  cancers were higher among men (250 per 100,000 people) =then women (148 per 100,000 people).

It’s time for states, counties and local communities to help our neighbors stop smoking. Smokers can get free help by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also get additional  resources from the CDC on the internet.





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