HEALTH

50 years after linking cigarettes to lung cancer, Surgeon General rallies nation behind cessation efforts

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Approximately 5.6 million American children alive today — or 1-of-13 children younger than 18 years — will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases unless current smoking rates drop, according to a new Surgeon General’s report released Friday.

Over the last 50 years, more than 20 million Americans have died from smoking. The new report concludes that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans a year, with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related conditions. It puts the price tag of smoking in this country at more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and other economic costs.

Today’s report, "The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General," comes a half century after the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report, which concluded that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. Since that time, smoking has been identified as a cause of serious diseases of nearly all the body’s organs. Today, scientists add diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration, and other conditions to the list of diseases that cigarette smoking causes. In addition, the report concludes that secondhand smoke exposure is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers.

“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,” stated Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak. “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. Of all forms of tobacco, cigarettes are the most deadly – and cause medical and financial burdens for millions of Americans.”

Twenty years ago male smokers were about twice as likely as female smokers to die early from smoking-related disease. The new report finds that women are now dying at rates as high as men from many of these diseases, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease. In fact, death from COPD is now greater in women than in men.

“Today, we’re asking Americans to join a sustained effort to make the next generation a tobacco-free generation,” noted Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This is not something the federal government can do alone. We need to partner with the business community, local elected officials, schools and universities, the medical community, the faith community and committed citizens in communities across the country to make the next generation tobacco free.”

Although youth smoking rates declined by half between 1997 and 2011, each day another 3,200 children under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and another 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers. Every adult who dies prematurely from smoking is replaced by two youth and young adult smokers.

The report concludes that the tobacco industry started and sustained this epidemic using aggressive marketing strategies to deliberately mislead the public about the harms of smoking. The evidence in the report emphasizes the need to accelerate and sustain successful tobacco control efforts that have been underway for decades.

“Over the last 50 years tobacco control efforts have saved 8 million lives but the job is far from over,” commented HHS assistant secretary for Health Howard Koh. “This report provides the impetus to accelerate public health and clinical strategies to drop overall smoking rates to less than 10% in the next decade. Our nation is now at a crossroads, and we must choose to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all.”

The Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to end the tobacco epidemic include enactment of the landmark Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products; significant expansion of tobacco cessation coverage through the Affordable Care Act to help encourage and support quitting; new Affordable Care Act investments in tobacco prevention campaigns like the “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign to raise awareness of the long-term health effects of smoking and encourage quitting; and increases in the cost of cigarettes resulting from the federal excise tax increase in the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act.

 

 

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SuperNutrition launches Facebook contest

BY Michael Johnsen

OAKLAND, Calif. — Supplement manufacturer SuperNutrition on Friday announced the beginning of its new contest via its Facebook page. Contestants who click the "like" button on SuperNutrition’s Facebook page are asked to leave a comment on how they plan to stick to their New Year’s resolution. 

Three grand prize winners will receive a free one year supply of SuperNutrition’s Advanced Formula Multivitamins or Advanced Formula Boosters plus a bonus gift. The three winners will be announced at the end of January 2014.  

SuperNutrition’s Advanced Formula Multivitamins and Advanced Formula Boosters are distributed in the health food industry. SuperNutrition features fast-dissolving fiber wicking tablets, gluten-free formulas and all products independently certified as non-GMO.

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Analysis: Only 1-in-3 adults ages 18 to 64 years get the flu shot

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — An analysis released Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health found that only 35.7% of adults ages 18 to 64 years got the flu shot last season. By comparison, 56.6% of children ages 6 months to 17 years old and 66.2% of seniors were vaccinated.  

"The trend of low vaccination rates among younger adults is particularly troubling this year, when they are more at risk than usual for the effects of the H1N1 strain of flu that’s circulating," stated Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH.

The analysis determined that overall flu vaccination rates remain low in the United States. Fewer than half of Americans (45%) got a flu shot during the 2012-13 season, which was an increase over 41.8% in the previous (2011-12) season.

During the 2012-13 flu season, vaccination rates were highest in Massachusetts at 57.5%, and lowest in Florida at 34.1%. Only 12 states had vaccination rates of 50% or higher:  Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Tennessee.

There were only three states that had decreases in their vaccination rates from the 2011-12 to the 2012-13 season:  Florida, Kansas and Wisconsin. 

 

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