(CBS News) The surgeon general’s latest smoking report warns unless current tobacco use rates fall, another 5.6 million U.S. kids might die prematurely.
The report, the first in more than a decade, found that smoking has killed more than 20 million Americans prematurely in the last half century.
Smoking causes more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries and firearm-related incidents combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Enough is enough,” acting Surgeon General Dr Boris Lushniak said in a telephone interview. “We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation.”
Health risks from smoking include stroke, heart attacks, heart disease, emphysema, COPD, bronchitis, cancer (including of the lungs, mouth, nose, throat, esophagus, larynx, cervix, kidneys, pancreas and stomach), decreased fertility, premature delivery, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, bone loss, gum disease and cataracts.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
“Most smokers really do want to quit smoking. It’s never done on the first try and what I want to do is entice people who have tried before who have failed, maybe I’ll provide that scientific information, that brand new disease that touches them,” Lushniak told CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.
In Friday’s new report — which was released about 50 years after the first surgeon general’s report declared smoking a human health hazard — liver and colorectal cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even erectile dysfunction joined the list of smoking-related diseases.
Although adult smoking rates have fallen to the current 18 percent from 43 percent of Americans in 1965, each day, more than 3,200 youths under the age 18 try their first cigarette, the report found.
Lushniak is calling on businesses, state and local governments, and society as a whole, to end smoking within a generation through hard-hitting media campaigns, smoke-free air policies, tobacco taxes, unhindered access to cessation treatment and more spending by state and local governments on tobacco control.
“It’s not just the federal lead on this anymore,” he said. “To get this done, we have to go to industry. We have to go to healthcare providers and remind them that this problem is not yet solved.”
The report, dubbed The Health Consequences of Smoking, 50 Years of Progress, details the growing science showing the diseases and health conditions caused by smoking since Dr Luther Terry issued the landmark report on January 11, 1964, that first confirmed smoking tobacco caused lung cancer.
In that first report, only lung cancer was associated with smoking.
“We’re up to 13 right now — 13 different cancers associated with smoking in 2014,” Lushniak said.
The new report adds liver and colorectal cancer to that list, but it also details several other conditions caused by smoking, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and impaired immune function, and cleft palate in infants.
And in a startling statistic, the report found that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of stroke by 20 to 30 percent.
“It really is astonishing that even 50 years in, we are finding new ways that tobacco maims and kills people,” Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a telephone interview.
He said the report found that smoking costs the nation $130 billion in direct medical expenses each year.