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For Immediate Release: Jan. 17, 2014
Media Inquiries: Jenny Haliski, 301-796-0776,
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg's Statement on the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health
A vision for a comprehensive tobacco control policy to end the tobacco epidemic

The 50th anniversary of the release of the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health is an opportunity to reflect on the important progress that has been made in tobacco control and to look ahead on addressing this critical public health issue. In 2014, tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in this country. For five decades, the Department of Human Health and Services has played a critical role in developing and implementing proven comprehensive tobacco control programs and policies aimed at preventing tobacco use, especially among youth, and encouraging cessation. The Surgeon General’s Report provides a scientific foundation for public health action to reduce the public health impact of tobacco use. 

Today’s historic report adds new scientific evidence that further defines the scope of the problem before us: liver cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis are now known to be caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure is now known to cause stroke. Although prevalence of current cigarette smoking among adults has declined from 42 percent in 1965 to 18 percent in 2012, more than 42 million Americans still smoke. Tobacco has killed more than 20 million people prematurely since the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964.

As this year’s report reminds us, we must more rapidly reduce the impact of tobacco use. If smoking persists at the current rate among young adults in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans under 18 are projected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. Some of the highest smoking prevalence rates are now among persons of lower socioeconomic status, including racial and ethnic minority groups and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Approximately four years ago, the FDA received a clear mandate when Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to add tobacco product regulation to the arsenal of tobacco control strategies. As a result, FDA takes science-based action in order to reduce the impact of tobacco products, and considers both users and nonusers.  The FDA is funding and conducting regulatory science research on tobacco products, enforcing the laws that reduce the access and attractiveness of tobacco products to young people, and preparing to launch an unprecedented national public education campaign to prevent youth tobacco use.

The FDA welcomes the vision outlined in today’s Surgeon General Report and will continue to propose and implement tobacco product regulations to protect our nation’s health.

The FDA stands ready to expand and accelerate our efforts to stop the deadly trajectory that accompanies tobacco use. We will apply the scientific findings from this year’s report and others before it as we continue work toward protecting and promoting the public health by further reducing tobacco-related disease and death. 

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