Just the Facts: New Surgeon General’s Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking

June 20, 2014

New Findings:

  • Smoking causes liver and colorectal cancers, in addition to the other cancers identified in previous Surgeon General’s reports
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes strokes
  • Smoking causes inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis, and impairs immune function
  • Smoking increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors

Key Findings:

  • The burden of death and disease from tobacco use in the U.S. is overwhelmingly caused by combustible tobacco products
  • Very large disparities, including between race, ethnicity, education, and income, in tobacco use remain
  • The tobacco epidemic was initiated and sustained by the deliberately false and misleading actions of the tobacco industry
  • Comprehensive tobacco control programs and policies have been proven effective

    “For the U.S., the epidemic of smoking-caused disease in the 20th century ranks among the greatest public health catastrophes of the century, while the decline of smoking consequent to tobacco control is surely one of the public health’s greatest successes.”


    Image of Progress and Challenges ahead from ACS CAN Fact Sheet: Just the Facts: New Surgeon General’s Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking

    The Solution:

    The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General calls for an integrated national tobacco control strategy of expanded implementation of tobacco control measures and new “end game” strategies to meet the vision of a society free of tobacco-related death and disease. The report provides the scientific foundation for critical tobacco control interventions.

    • Increasing the price of tobacco products prevents initiation and promotes cessation.
    • Smoke-free laws protect against secondhand smoke exposure and reduce smoking.
    • Mass media campaigns and comprehensive community and statewide tobacco control programs prevent initiation and reduce prevalence among youth and adults.
    • Tobacco cessation treatments are effective in helping smokers quit.

    Additionally, the report concludes that tobacco product regulation has the potential to reduce death and disease from tobacco use, including through reductions in the addictiveness and harmfulness of tobacco products and the prevention of false or misleading claims by the tobacco industry about the harmfulness of their products. The Surgeon General’s report recommends interventions and strategies must be implemented fully, forcefully, and sustainably in order to end the tobacco epidemic in the U.S.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network supports a comprehensive approach to addressing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the United States. Our advocacy strategy includes:

    • Increasing the price of all tobacco products through tobacco tax increases
    •  Implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies in communities
    • Fully funding and sustaining evidence-based, statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs, including ensuring access to clinical cessation services
    • Working with the Food and Drug Administration to effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to comprehensively regulate tobacco products and their marketing

    Each component works in conjunction with the others and all are necessary to tackle the tobacco epidemic in this country effectively. ACS CAN works in partnership with federal, state, and local policymakers across the country to ensure that tobacco use is addressed comprehensively in each community