Reports from the Surgeon General

The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014
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In the most recent report on smoking by the Surgeon General, it is documented that disease caused by smoking in the United States ranks among the “greatest public health catastrophes of the century.”

The report states that even with significant progress since the first Surgeon General’s report that was issued 50 years ago, smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable disease and death in the United States:

  • Smoking rates among adults and teens are less than half what they were in 1964. Nearly 40 million American adults and about 3 million middle and high school students continue to smoke.
  • 480,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking each year.
  • More than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking.
  • On average, compared to people who have never smoked, smokers suffer more health problems and disability due to their smoking and ultimately lose more than a decade of life.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke causes coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Each year, an estimated 41,000 nonsmoking adults die from secondhand smoke exposure.

The following table provides data concerning premature deaths caused by smoking and second-hand smoke exposure from 1965-2014

Cause of Death Total Premature Deaths
Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases 7,787,000
Smoking-related cancers 6,587,000
Pulmonary diseases 3,804,000
Coronary heart disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke 2,194,000
Lung cancers caused by exposure to secondhand smoke 3,804,000
Conditions related to pregnancy and birth 108,000
Residential fires 86,000
Total 20,830,000

Source: CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, unpublished data.

Learn more by going to The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon GeneralExternal

Other Surgeon General Reports on Smoking

Page last reviewed: November 16, 2016