It was 50 years ago that the Surgeon General first released a report citing the significant link between tobacco use and lung cancer, heart disease and death. In 1964, nearly 42 percent of American adults used tobacco products of some sort. Despite the fact that the number of people who smoke cigarettes and use tobacco have dropped in the United States, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the country.
While not as many people are smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes still pose a significant health hazard to the American people.
After the landmark Surgeon General report was released that finally provided data proving that tobacco leads to lung cancer, heart disease and death, work was quickly underway in the country in order to minimize tobacco use and prevent young people from getting addicted to nicotine, cigarettes and tobacco products. Within a year, Congress passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965. This law forced tobacco companies to place health warning labels on cigarette packaging as well as cigarette advertising. These warnings were meant to inform consumers of the potential dangers associated with smoking cigarettes.
Congress continued to work to minimize tobacco use by passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This act prevented tobacco companies from advertising to children, with the ultimate goal of preventing children from starting to smoke in the first place. It also prevented the tobacco companies from downplaying the adverse health effects that cigarettes can have on a person. In 1972, another Surgeon General warning was released that cited the dangers of second-hand smoke. Since then, many states have moved to eliminate smoking from restaurants and public spaces in order to protect the workers in those areas, as well as the patrons of those businesses.
Despite all of these efforts, tobacco is still a prevalent health concern in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 480,000 people die each year in the United States because of tobacco or complications from tobacco use. While less adults smoke than in 1964, young people are still being attracted to new and innovative tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. In fact, between the years of 2011 and 2012, the number of teens in middle school and high school who used e-cigarettes more than doubled. This is probably the largest rising cause for concern for the younger population as many are led to believe that e-cigarettes are a healthier option than regular tobacco cigarettes.
The fact of the matter is, this is not true. Smoking regular cigarettes or e-cigarettes is still harmful and can lead to health problems such as heart disease, cancer, breathing issues and other health issues. While it’s been 50 years since the first report was released warning people of all the adverse health effects that tobacco use can have, not enough has changed in the United States. Young people are still picking up the habit of smoking in one way or another, which perpetuates the problems across the country.