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American Cancer Society marks 50th anniversary of tobacco health report

The Aberdeen Times of Aberdeen, Idaho

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As the nation marks the 50th anniversary this month of the first U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco and Health, the American Cancer Society and its nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), point to remarkable progress in the fight against tobacco and the resulting lives saved from cancer.

Since the release of the landmark report in 1964, the percentage of American adults who smoke has been cut by more than half, down from over 40 percent to less than 20 percent today. But with more than 43 million Americans still lighting up and tobacco use remaining the single largest preventable cause of premature death in the United States, the society and ACS CAN say they are committed to further reducing smoking and saving more lives from cancer.

"The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN have played a central role in the nationwide decrease in smoking," Seffrin said. "In fact, less smoking may be the biggest reason that death rates from cancer have declined since the early 90s, saving 300 more lives per day. But with tobacco still the primary cause of lung cancer, the No. 1 cause of cancer death, we have more work to do to prevent many more thousands of needless deaths every year."

In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths, or about 443,000 premature deaths every year. Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. Each year, an estimated 3,400 non-smoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoking costs the United States more than $193 billion a year ($97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures).

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Original Publication Date: January 15, 2014

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