Today the 30th tobacco related Surgeon General’s report since 1964 was released. This very scientific based report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, focused on how smoking causes damage to almost every organ on the body. As we know there has been a lot of studies on the effects of smoking, but this over 700 page report details in depth the true effects of cigarette smoking and the ways tobacco smoke damages the human body. More importantly as a result we have a New Comprehensive Strategic Plan to address this issue.
To ensure comprehension of the findings an Executive Summary was created to outline the original 700+ page report in a more user friendly format which consists of a 9 page report. A Consumer report was also created as a result of the new Report.
In addition to the release of the reports, a factsheet was created which outlines 6 scientific evidence based conclusions to help support us in our work:
- There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke – even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke – is harmful.
- Damage from tobacco smoke is immediate.
- Smoking longer means more damage.
- Cigarettes are designed for addiction.
- There is no safe cigarette.
- The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of tobacco-related disease and death is to never smoke, and if you do smoke to quit.
While these conclusions may look very basic, and may have been identified in the past, there is even more scientific evidence to support the conclusions than ever before.
With the new regulation of tobacco, this report adds more support for stricter regulations of tobacco products. The report was designed to be very scientific based bringing together over 70 researchers to ensure comprehensive findings that can be used in the regulation of tobacco by the FDA.
Regulation of nicotine levels in a cigarette, for example, is one of the areas the FDA is looking at. This report outlines that the design and contents of tobacco products make them more attractive and addictive than ever before, and that cigarettes today deliver nicotine more quickly from the lungs to the heart and brain. With the scientific documentation to support the findings this could mean huge gains with the new FDA regulation of tobacco. Additionally, we know there is no safe cigarette. With new evidence from this report we know that changing cigarette designs over the last five decades, including filtered, low-tar, and “light” variations, have NOT reduced overall disease risk among smokers and may have hindered prevention and cessation efforts. So although we have speculated and have known some of these findings we yet again have more research to support the regulation of tobacco. Also, the report identified that the overall health of the public could be harmed if the introduction of novel tobacco products encourages tobacco use among people who would otherwise be unlikely to use a tobacco product or delays cessation among persons who would otherwise quit using tobacco altogether. So although there was not a lot that went into other smokeless tobacco products through this report they initially scratched the surface and maybe a next step would be looking into more tobacco products other than just cigarettes in the near future.
The most important section for me is the last point identified in the factsheet. The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of tobacco-related disease and death is to never smoke, and if you do smoke to quit. Although it sounds easer that it actually is we know that there are major strides to offer comprehensive cessation services to everyone. We know that it is never too late to quit, and that it takes an individual several attempts to quit before they are actually successful. Dr. Regina Benjamin noted today that patents who physicians talked to them about quitting have a 66% higher success rate of quitting. As a result a new Factsheet for physician was created. More importantly, in the quest to make sure everyone has equal access to cessation resources the federal government has amended their healthcare plans to offer comprehensive cessation services, and as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius mentioned “we need to lead by example”. We know It’s important for all companies to have comprehensive cessation offered in their health care plans. In addition, we know that Medicare offers cessation services, and there will be an announcement soon regarding Medicaid offering cessation coverage, which will come from the new Affordable Care Act.
Finally, the factsheet released today informs individuals to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get started on a quit plan today. We have created an LGBT friendly poster version to promote the national quitline. In addition, we have a list of excellent cessation resources for LGBT communities from the field. If you know of any resources we don’t have on the site please send them to us so we can share them on our site.
Visit http://surgeongeneral.gov/ for the full 722 page report and all of the attachments, including a new PSA featuring the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. You can also request printed copies of all of the supporting documents as well.