Fifty years since the surgeon general warned that cigarette smoking could have deadly health consequences, resulting in a decades-long effort to place tighter restrictions on the sale and use of tobacco products, more health problems have been linked to tobacco use.
Smoking can cause liver cancer, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, erectile dysfunction and rheumatoid arthritis, according to a report by Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak. Smoking can also worsen asthma, cause cleft lips and palates in developing fetuses, and cause strokes in non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke, the report states. And, due to changes in the design and composition of cigarettes, current smokers also have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than smokers five decades ago.
The sobering report, which has been gathering data since 1964, offers a more detailed picture of the problems associated with cigarette smoking than ever before. It also points to the importance of ongoing efforts to curb use of tobacco products. The effort has worked – 18 percent of adults smoke today compared to 42 percent in 1965. There are now more former smokers in the United States than current smokers.
Federal agencies have made efforts to warn people of the dangers of smoking, and to encourage smokers to quit and nonsmokers not to try tobacco products. First, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unsuccessfully tried to order graphic warning labels be placed on packages of cigarettes. Then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a series of jolting advertisements showing the long-term effects of cigarette use.
A recent court decision is requiring the largest tobacco companies to issue apologies and corrective statements about the risks of tobacco use in newspaper, television and online ads as well as on their company websites.
The surgeon general’s report supports more aggressive tactics for controlling tobacco use in an effort to save more lives. The report cites public health victories in the past such as the eradication of smallpox and polio, and says the elimination of tobacco-related death and disease deserves similar effort from others.
Source: Washington Post