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President Biden Is Right to Prioritize Fight Against Tobacco as Key Part of Cancer Moonshot – Smoking Causes 30% of All Cancer Deaths in U.S.

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 08, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In presenting his agenda for the coming year, President Biden this week renewed his commitment to the Cancer Moonshot with the goal of cutting U.S. cancer death rates by at least half in 25 years. President Biden is absolutely right to include reducing smoking as a critical component of this initiative, accurately describing smoking as “the biggest single driver of cancer deaths in this country.”

Smoking causes 30% of all cancer deaths and over 80% of deaths from lung cancer, the leading cancer killer. There is no single action that would have a greater impact in saving lives from cancer – and reducing cancer-related disparities – than to drive down the number of people who start to smoke, especially kids, and help more people quit. If President Biden succeeds in implementing the policies he has proposed, he will leave a legacy that will benefit Americans for generations. We cannot win the fight against cancer without winning the fight against tobacco. We applaud President Biden and his Administration for their leadership in advancing this initiative to greatly improve our nation’s health and save countless lives.

We urge the Administration to move forward swiftly with the following actions:

  • The FDA should quickly finalize and implement its proposed regulations to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars – products the tobacco industry has used to target and addict kids, Black Americans and other populations for far too long. A recent analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations found that prohibiting menthol cigarettes would quickly eliminate disparities in lung cancer death rates among Black Americans, underscoring the enormous impact that prohibiting menthol cigarettes would have in reducing health and cancer disparities.
  • The Administration and the FDA should also move forward with their plan to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products to minimally or non-addictive levels. This is another game-changing proposal that would prevent kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes, help more smokers quit and save lives.
  • The Administration should expand efforts by the CDC and other agencies to help smokers quit and ensure that the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research makes tobacco cessation a priority.
  • The FDA should clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes, which have addicted so many of America’s youth.

Together, these bold actions will protect our nation’s children, advance health equity and save millions of lives from cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. These actions are essential to achieving the goals of the Cancer Moonshot and they warrant strong, bipartisan support.