Late Breaking News
Decline in Tobacco Use Has Stalled, CDC Says
WASHINGTON, DC—The 40-year decline in tobacco use in the US has stalled, according to CDC. A new CDC report states that the number of adult smokers dropped between 2000 and 2005, but smoking has remained at about 20% to 21% since 2005. “One in five American adults—46.6 million people—smoke cigarettes, and there’s been no progress in reducing that number for the past five years,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD.
In addition, CDC reports that nearly 90 million American nonsmokers are exposed to toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. Children who live with a smoker are also impacted by smoke, with 98% exposed to toxic chemicals. What is “striking” about this data, is that only 1% to 2% of children who live with smokers were smoke-free when their blood was tested for tobacco toxins caused by tobacco smoke, noted Frieden.
Frieden blamed both the tobacco industry and the government for the stall in tobacco use decline. Industry, he said, has “gotten even better at side-stepping laws designed to get people to stop smoking.”
Frieden says that the government is not doing what it needs to do to reduce smoking. “Comprehensive, evidence-based programs are not being widely implemented. Last year, states took in about $25 billion from tobacco taxes in a master settlement agreement but spent only about $700 million, about three cents on every dollar.”
According to Frieden, if all states funded tobacco control at the CDC-recommended level by 2015 —about 15 cents on the dollar of tobacco revenues—there would be an estimated 5 million fewer smokers in this country, and that would prevent at least a million deaths in the future. Tobacco control measures work when implemented, he said. “Places that implement tobacco control programs get dramatic results. Washington state, for example, has decreased their smoking rate to less than 15%. In California, smoking is less than 13%. In Rhode Island, it’s down to 15%. In Massachusetts, it’s at 15%.”
Physicians can play a role in helping to reduce smoking, he emphasized. “Doctors can ask every patient if they smoke and they can advise every patient who does to quit and quit today, or if not today, to set a date when they can quit. They should also note what services are available in their community to help smokers quit, [and] refer people to quit lines.”