Washington, D.C., Mar. 8, 2012 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the new report, “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” released today by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D.:
“The Surgeon General has done her job. Now we must do ours. This insightful new report makes it clear that we cannot let our guard down for a minute when it comes to tobacco addiction. While many Americans may think tobacco use is fading away, the evidence in this report tells a dramatically different story.
Not only is the decline in smoking stalled, but more young Americans are using tobacco products peddled by an industry intent on addicting a new generation. As this report reveals, each of the 1,200 Americans who die from tobacco-related diseases every day are being replaced by two smokers under the age of 26. We know that this smoking can set teens and young adults on the road to early hardening of the arteries and coronary artery disease in adulthood.
Despite this evidence, our society’s vigilance against tobacco use has waned in recent years — even though we have the solutions that can end this epidemic once and for all. The Surgeon General’s report confirms that combined interventions — such as mass media campaigns, well-funded state prevention and cessation programs, increased tobacco taxes, and smoke-free laws — reduce tobacco use among youth and adults. The American Heart Association strongly supports all of these interventions.
States are the key battleground in this ongoing war against tobacco. Unfortunately, state tobacco prevention funding has been reduced by one-third in the past several years, and many tobacco tax and smoke-free law initiatives have faced uphill battles in state legislatures. How many more young Americans need to become addicted to tobacco and suffer from heart disease, stroke or other chronic diseases before the states take action?
The Surgeon General’s report is an urgent warning for our nation, and particularly for states that must renew their commitment to tobacco control in order to stop a new generation of young people from lighting their first cigarette.”