Nov. 26 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that the adult smoking rate in the United States continues to decline slowly, falling to a low of 17.8 percent in 2013 from 18.1 percent in 2012 and 20.9 percent in 2005.
While it is good news that smoking continues to decline, it is disappointing and unacceptable that we're not making greater progress in reducing smoking -- the number one cause of preventable death. It's not surprising that there has not been more recent progress when we have proven strategies that are not being applied nearly aggressively enough. In recent years, states have cut and severely underfunded tobacco prevention and cessation programs and progress at the state level in enacting higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws has slowed greatly.
Without a serious national commitment to adopt proven strategies to reduce death and disease caused by tobacco, 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. Funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the CDC-recommended levels, enacting higher state and federal tobacco taxes, and passing smoke-free laws -- all proven strategies to reduce the death and disease caused by smoking – will save lives.
The federal government and the states need to fully implement and follow the recommendations outlined in the new Surgeon General’s Report issued in January of this year:
Continuation and expansion of national media campaigns such as the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign and the FDA’s youth prevention campaign – in the words of the report’s authors, “at a high frequency level and exposure for 12 months a year for a decade or more.”
Increasing cigarette taxes to prevent kids from smoking and encourage smokers to quit.
Effective implementation of the FDA’s authority over tobacco products “in order to reduce tobacco product addictiveness and harmfulness.”
Fulfilling the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health plans provide coverage for tobacco cessation treatment, including counseling and medication.
Fully funding state tobacco prevention and cessation programs at CDC-recommended levels. Currently, only two states (North Dakota and Alaska) meet that standard, and most states fall woefully short.
Enacting comprehensive smoke-free laws that protect all Americans from secondhand smoke. Currently 24 states, Washington, DC and hundreds of cities have such laws, protecting nearly half of the U .S. population.
Smoking rates have dropped, but we must continue to press for more progress, and ensure that smokers who decide to quit can get help. Smoking remains higher, the CDC pointed out, among groups of Americans including those below the poverty level; those with less education; American Indians/Alaska Natives; those who live in the South or Midwest; and lesbians/gays/bisexuals. Sexual orientation data was collected for the first time by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in 2013, the CDC reported.
There is an urgent need to accelerate progress against the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. It is unacceptable that 42.1 million American adults still smoke and some 480,000 Americans still die every year from smoking-related diseases.