As the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health(www.surgeongeneral.gov) approaches, the presidents and CEOs of a number of organizations, including the AAFP, are using the occasion to press President Obama to do more to fight tobacco use in the United States.
"On the 50th anniversary (of the report), it is time for the United States to commit to ending the tobacco epidemic once and for all," say the AAFP, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, AMA, American Public Health Association, Action on Smoking and Health, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, C-Change, and Legacy in a letter to the White House. The organizations note that the first surgeon general's report on smoking, which was issued in 1964, changed the way Americans look at the dangers of smoking, and they encourage the Obama administration to do more.
"Since 1964, we have made enormous progress," says the letter, adding, however, that tobacco use still kills far too many people in the United States every year. "Smoking kills 443,000 Americans each year, sickens millions more and costs the nation nearly $200 billion annually in health care expenditures and lost productivity," says the letter.
The organizations point to the administration's strong stance on tobacco products to date, including the president's having signed several pieces of landmark legislation designed to protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco use. In addition, the CDC has launched a national media campaign to reduce tobacco use.
However, in the letter, the organizations ask that more be done to "reduce smoking rates to less than 10 percent within 10 years and, ultimately, eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco." To that end, the organizations suggest that the administration
- implement robust media campaigns now planned by the CDC and FDA to discourage kids from smoking and encourage smokers to quit;
- ensure the FDA's authority to regulate manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products is fully enforced;
- implement a research initiative to counter efforts by the tobacco industry to make their products "more addictive and attractive to children";
- significantly increase the federal tobacco tax; and
- rigorously enforce the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's requirement that health plans provide coverage for smoking cessation efforts.
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