Cigarette smoking among American adults is at an all-time low of 14 percent, but smoking tobacco is still “the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States,” according to a U.S. surgeon general’s report released Thursday.
It was the first surgeon general report on national smoking habits in 30 years.
The report also found that of the 34 million American adult cigarette smokers, two-thirds said that they want to quit smoking and one-third said that they tried to quit in the past year.
“We know more about the science of quitting than ever before,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said during a news conference Thursday. “As a nation, we can and must do more to ensure that evidence-based cessation treatments are reaching the people that need them.”
The report found there was “inadequate” evidence for claims by vaping industry stakeholders that e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking tobacco products.
The findings come at a time of increased scrutiny of federal efforts to curb e-cigarette use among Americans, particularly among children and youth, following the revelation that thousands of people have been sickened after vaping, and 60 have died.
Many of the report’s findings reinforced long-held conclusions about the dangers of smoking tobacco and the benefits of quitting. For instance, the report found that quitting smoking decreases the risk of premature death and “can add as much as a decade to life expectancy.”
It also found that medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, behavioral counseling, and nicotine replacement therapies all can increase the chances of successfully quitting cigarette smoking.
The report suggested higher prices for cigarettes, mass media campaigns, and anti-smoking policies could also help reduce the number of smokers in the U.S.
Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society released a study that found cancer deaths declined at a greater rate from 2016 to 2017 than any other year on record. Researchers attributed that decrease to the fact that fewer Americans are smoking.