Ending Cigarette Use by Adults in a Generation is Possible


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Ending Cigarette Use by Adults in a Generation is Possible
The IASLC Endorses Today’s Summary Report by Tobacco Control Leaders

DENVER – As the health care system in the U.S. grapples with rising costs and confronts new challenges like the legalization of marijuana and the abuse of opioids, Americans must not forget that nearly 40 million adult smokers in the U.S. face immediate risks to their health and well-being. While not new, the toll of tobacco is enormous and costly ($170 billion/year), and can be prevented.  To that end, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) endorses a report released today which outlines key action items that can be taken immediately to accelerate progress toward ending cigarette smoking in adults.

Issuing their Executive Summary Report titled Ending Cigarette Use by Adults in a Generation is Possible, the Core Team for Tobacco Control states, “Tobacco control is losing priority in social, political and health agendas, and public awareness of smoking as a continued public health threat has waned. Chronic exposure to tobacco smoke is the single largest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the United States today.  In spite of significant progress in tobacco control over the last half century, tobacco use is still the cause of nearly one in every four deaths daily in America— and is a major source of race, class and education disparities.”1

Gleaning the most important recommendations from 120 key tobacco control leaders across the U.S., ranging from researchers and academics, to advocates, state and urban tobacco control staff, government officials and local front-line workers, the report proposes three specific actions for immediate, accelerated implementation:

Action 1:
Increase excise taxes at the federal level and in many states with four goals: lower smoking rates, harmonize taxes across state borders to reduce illicit trade, cover the costs of smoking-related disease and encourage a shift from cigarettes to reduced-risk products and complete cessation.

Action 2:
Encourage health and life insurers, employers and health professionals to actively promote smoking cessation measures supported by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report.

Action 3:
Establish a more rational tobacco, nicotine and alternative products regulatory framework based on their relative risks, which is adaptable to the increased speed of innovation in new technology development.

The IASLC strongly agrees with the report’s statement that, “Unlike 50 years ago, we now know the things we need to do to prevent addiction to tobacco, and to help adults quit smoking. Thus, most of the tobacco-induced illnesses and deaths could be avoided, if we as a nation chose to make that happen.”

Dr. K. Michael Cummings, a global advocate for tobacco control programs and former chair of the IASLC Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Committee, states that, “A stronger, concerted effort on adult smoking cessation — well documented as a highly cost-effective intervention — is needed to reach the short-term national goal of reducing the prevalence of cigarette smoking in adults to less than 10 percent in all communities nationwide by 2024. We continue to see substantial gains over the last two decades from many collaborative efforts to reduce youth smoking initiation. The same drive is now needed to reach the 40 million current adult smokers and ensure that accelerated declines in smoking occur. 

The Core Team on this report includes: Michael Terry (corporate CEO and son of former U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry); John Seffrin (former CEO of the American Cancer Society and professor of practice); Allan Erickson (former VP for Public Education/Tobacco Control, American Cancer Society); Donald Shopland (Former Director, Office on Smoking and Health, U.S. Public Health Service) and K. Michael Cummings (Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina and Co-leader, Tobacco Research Program at Hollings Cancer Center).

Five other distinguished senior tobacco control leaders were selected to provide special expertise and guidance to the Core Team, including Dr. Charles “Mickey” LeMaistre, who in 1962, was the youngest member appointed to serve on Surgeon General Luther Terry’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health that issued its landmark 1964 report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, heart and lung issues. Mickey was the last surviving member of that Advisory Committee and advised the Core Team until his death in January 2017. 

Just as the Surgeon General’s 1964 Report on Smoking and Health alerted the nation to the dangers of tobacco and transformed the topic of cigarette smoking, we must be just as vigilant in 2017.

 “What is desperately needed today is the launching of another potent campaign to awaken the American public and public health policy to combat the still virulent epidemic of tobacco use. This is what the remarkable ‘Clarion Call to Action’ represents: the combined wisdom and passion of the most authoritative tobacco control leaders. It is as worthy of broad attention as the original Surgeon General’s Report.” Michael Pertschuk, Former Chairman, Federal Trade Commission 

About the IASLC
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated solely to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association's membership includes more than 5,000 lung cancer specialists in over 100 countries. Visit for more information.



1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Burden of Tobacco Use.” May 2016.

March 15, 2017