Wednesday, March 14, 2012
This Week's News
This Week's News
Surgeon general: U.S. needs to strengthen tobacco prevention efforts
In a report released last week, the U.S. surgeon general's office emphasizes the need for increased tobacco prevention efforts for young people to combat tobacco use in the United States. According to the report, 99 percent of adult smokers start before the age of 26.
While tobacco use among teens has stalled, the prevalence of smoking among adults aged 18–24 is on the rise. Today a quarter of all high school seniors and a third of all young adults smoke, according to the report. Of those, only one-third will quit, and another third will die of tobacco-related causes. Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for 443,000 deaths each year.
The report concludes that coordinated prevention efforts can help reduce tobacco use, particularly among adolescents and young adults. The report examines the effectiveness of mass media campaigns, price increases for tobacco products, school-based programs, and state and community smoke-free policies.
"The addictive power of nicotine makes tobacco use much more than a passing phase for most teens. We now know smoking causes immediate physical damage, some of which is permanent," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, said in a news release. "Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life."
In response to the report, the AMA has called for adequate funding for public programs that fight tobacco use.
"Evidence-based tobacco prevention and treatment programs have been proven to reduce smoking, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs," AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, said in a statement. "Without access to treatment, these young smokers will fall victim to tobacco-related chronic diseases and cancers."
The AMA's Healthier Life Steps™ program provides resources for physicians to help their patients quit smoking and make other key lifestyle changes to help prevent and manage serious health conditions.