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U.S. Health Officials: Stamp Out Cigarette Use

Diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction among latest ills now linked to tobacco
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Mary Brophy Marcus

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The list of health woes linked to smoking is like a scroll that keeps unfurling.

At a White House press conference Friday morning, half a century after the release of the historic 1964 Surgeon General's report, dozens of the nation's health leaders gathered for the official release of the newest report on smoking. The message: the health risks from smoking are even graver than anyone could have imagined 50 years ago, and the battle to end smoking is far from over.

Fifty years ago, Americans were told that cigarette smoking -- despite its then-glamorous Hollywood image -- was a killer that causes lung cancer. In subsequent years, as more scientific investigations into tobacco took place, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and bladder and cervical cancer were added to the list.

Now, a host of additional health ills have been tied to tobacco use, including diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration, cleft palate and immune system problems, officials said Friday.

"We're still a country very much addicted to tobacco," U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said at the presentation of Friday's report, called "The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General."

Acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak also spoke at the meeting, which included the children and grandchildren of Dr. Luther Terry, the country's ninth Surgeon General and the first to publish the landmark report on smoking.

"Enough is enough," Lushniak said over and over, as he described the toll smoking has taken on human life, families, and the U.S. economy over the past five decades.

Lushniak said the ingredients in today's cigarettes are more toxic than ever.

"Smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did when the first Surgeon General's report was released in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes," he said. He added that the chemicals in cigarettes today might be a factor in higher lung cancer risks.

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