50th Anniversary of Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking

4_6_cigarette_warning_labelToday marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. Tremendous progress has been made in reducing tobacco use in the United States over the past five decades, but millions of Americans are still putting their lives at risk with tobacco use.

The report titled “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress” is being released during a press conference at The White House at 9:30 a.m. today. The event is being Webcast live.

This anniversary report celebrates the progress made in reducing smoking, while acknowledging the work still ahead to end tobacco-related disease and death with the ultimate goal of making the next generation tobacco-free. It will also present new data on tobacco use and unveil new tobacco prevention programs.

Since 1964, smoking prevalence among U.S. adults has been reduced by half. However, smoking remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 deaths — one of every five deaths — in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are still an estimated 43.8 million people (around 19% of adults) in the United States who smoke cigarettes, so the effort to help people quit remains critically important.

Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well initiative is doing its part to reduce tobacco use in west Georgia by offering the Fresh Start program free of charge to the community.

Fresh Start is a tobacco cessation counseling program designed by the American Cancer Society. It helps people stop using tobacco by arming them with information, providing skills for coping with cravings and offering group support.

The Fresh Start program is upbeat and focuses on the benefits of quitting, including improved health, money saved, freedom from addiction and the enhanced senses of smell and taste.

smoking4“Everyone knows the scary stuff about how bad smoking or dipping or chewing is for your health, so we focus on the positive benefits of quitting,” explains Wes Webster, a counselor with the Employee Assistance Program at Tanner Health System. Webster quit smoking more than 20 years ago and has been leading smoking cessation classes for the past 18 years to help others quit.

The benefits of quitting begin literally within minutes. For example, within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, blood pressure drops and within a year, risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by half compared to smokers.

For more information on the Fresh Start program in west Georgia, please visit Get Healthy, Live Well. A list of upcoming classes is available in the online calendar. To sign up for this free program, call 770.214.CARE.

About the Author