Preventing Millions of Lives Lost to Tobacco Use

June 20, 2014

Making the Next Generation Tobacco-Free

January 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Surgeon General’s Report linking smoking to lung cancer. This year’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Year of Progress, a Report of the Surgeon General, highlights the toxicity of and toll tobacco has taken, the potential for continued lives lost and calls for forceful and sustained action in tobacco control and prevention. Since 1964, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke prematurely claimed the lives of more than 20 million Americans. Tobacco use is responsible for 480,000 premature deaths each year and almost $300 billion in health care costs and lost productively. Additionally, tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic with almost 90 percent of adult smokers starting as kids. The report concludes that without action, 5.6 million youth under the age of 18 today will die prematurely from tobacco use.

The report recommends evidence-based tobacco control strategies including raising the retail price of tobacco products, smoke-free air policies, high-impact media campaigns, full access to cessation treatments, fully funding of comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs, reducing the nicotine content in tobacco products to make them less addictive, and greater restrictions on the sale of tobacco products.

Without forceful and sustained action, 5.6 million youth are projected to die prematurely from a tobacco-related illness.


State Specific Projected Youth Smokers and Premature Deaths from Tobacco Use

These estimates represent the number of youth aged 0 to 17 currently alive today that will eventually die prematurely from a tobacco-related illness if smoking rates remain the same as they are today. For example, of the 73.7 million youth alive today, 17.3 million will become smokers in their lifetime and 5.6 million of those youth will die prematurely because of their tobacco use.

State Population Under 18 Years Old Projected Number of Youth Smokers Projected Number of Deaths
Alabama 1,124,406 336,200 108,000
Alaska 187,100 443,600 14,000
Arizona 1,620,894 359,800 115,000
Arkansas 710,881 214,700 69,000
California 9,240,219 1,376,800 441,000
Colorado 1,231,358 283,200 91,000
Connecticut 793,558 175,400 56,000
Deleware 205,050 53,700 17,000
District of Columbia 109,480 22,300 7,000
Florida 4,002,480 844,500 270,000
Georgia 2,490,125 637,500 204,000
Hawaii 303,011 67,000 21,000
Idaho 426,653 94,300 30,000
Illinois 3,064,065 720,100 230,000
Indiana 1,591,477 471,100 151,000
Iowa 722,953 172,100 55,000
Kansas 724,304 191,200 61,000
Kentucky 1,018,238 371,700 119,000
Louisiana 1,117,803 307,400 98,000
Maine 265,918 84,300 27,000
Maryland 1,343,800 288,900 92,00
Massachusetts 1,401,415 322,300 103,000
Michigan 2,266,870 666,500 213,00
Minnesota 1,276,148 319,000 102,000
Mississippi 745,333 213,900 68,000
Missouri 1,403,475 398,600 128,000
Montana 221,980 59,000 19,000
Nebraska 463,405 118,600 38,000
Nevada 663,583 128,700 41,000
New Hampshire 274,840 67,900 22,000
New Jersey 2,026,384 445,800 143,000
New Mexico 514,442 124,500 40,000
New York 4,263,154 873,900 280,000
North Carolina 2,286,528 562,500 180,000
North Dakota 154,608 43,400 14,000
Ohio 2,663,674 809,800 259,000
Oklahoma 937,363 275,600 88,000
Oregon 860,624 213,400 68,000
Pennsylvania 2,739,386 761,500 244,000
Rhode Island 216,474 48,700 16,000
South Carolina 1,080,090 443,600 14,000
South Dakota 204,169 65,700 21,000
Tennessee 1,494,016 391,400 125,000
Texas 6,985,639 1,557,800 498,000
Utah 887,972 120,800 39,000
Vermont 123,951 31,500 10,000
Virginia 1,856,737 469,800 150,000
Washington 1,584,967 324,900 104,000
West Virginia 384,041 147,900 47,000
Wisconsin 1,317,557 332,000 106,000
Wyoming 135,490 37,800 12,000
Total: 73,728,088 17,371,900 5,557,000

 

*The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention developed these projects by using the current smoking rate for 18-30 year olds to calculate the anticipated number of smokers in the 0-17 year old birth cohort, current population data, and a probably of smoking-attributed mortality of 32 percent. See Table 12.2.1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Year of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of Smoking and Health, 2014.

 

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 marketing

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.