The trouble with tobacco

Posted at: 01/17/2014 12:34 PM
Updated at: 01/17/2014 12:36 PM
By: Erika Edwards, NBC News

Photo: NBC News

(NBC News) -- It's been well established that smoking can lead to heart disease and lung cancer and is the number one preventable cause of premature death.

A new surgeon general report out Friday links smoking to 13 types of cancer plus a host of other health problems.

"Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, liver cancer, as well as erectile dysfunction," said Acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak

Eighteen percent of adults in the U.S. smoke.

The goal in public health is to reduce that to less than 10-percent in the next 10 years.

"If you speak to smokers, 80% of them want to quit. The problem is it's very hard to quit because they're addicted," said Robin Koval of American Legacy Foundation.

Experts say higher prices and programs to help people quit smoking are proven strategies.

"Policies like smoke-free laws are effective, but unfortunately only about half our population is actually protected by those laws," Lushniak said.

Some groups are highly vulnerable to the health consequences of smoking, low-income populations, ethnic minorities and women.

"Women now have as great a chance as men from dying from a tobacco-caused disease, whether it be cancer, heart disease or lung disease," Erika Sward of the American Lung Association said.

Tobacco companies will soon have to admit publicly cigarettes were designed to make them more addictive.
This is in accordance with a federal ruling that found the companies lied about the dangers of smoking.

They'll publish a series of "corrective statements" in newspapers as well as pay for prime-time spots on major television networks.