U.S. Surgeon General Issues Report on Smoking Cessation

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently issued a report on smoking cessation, the 34th tobacco-related Surgeon General report published since 1964. In 1990, the Surgeon General issued the report, The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation. The latest report summarizes the latest evidence on the health benefits of smoking cessation, including recent scientific evidence on the topic.

The 2020 Surgeon General’s report concludes the following key points:

  • Smoking cessation is beneficial at any age, reduces the risk of premature death, and can add as much as a decade to life expectancy.
  • Smoking places a substantial financial burden on smokers, healthcare systems, and society. Smoking cessation reduces this burden, including smoking-attributable healthcare expenditures.
  • Smoking cessation reduces risk for many adverse health effects, including reproductive health outcomes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cancer. Quitting smoking is also beneficial to those who have been diagnosed with heart disease and COPD.
  • More than three out of five U.S. adults who have ever smoked cigarettes have quit. Although a majority of cigarette smokers make a quit attempt each year, less than one-third use cessation medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or behavioral counseling to support quit attempts.
  • Considerable disparities exist in the prevalence of smoking across the U.S. population with higher prevalence in some subgroups. Similarly, the prevalence of key indicators of smoking cessation—quit attempts, receiving advice to quit form a health professional, and using cessation therapies—also varies across the population with lower prevalence in some subgroups.
  • Electronic cigarettes, a continually change and heterogeneous group of products, are used in a variety of ways. Consequently, it is difficult to make generalizations about efficacy for cessation based on clinical trials involving a particular electronic cigarette, and there is presently inadequate evidence to conclude that electronic cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation.
  • Smoking cessation can be increased by raising the price of cigarettes, adopting comprehensive smoke-free policies, implementing mass media campaigns, requiring pictorial health warnings, and maintaining comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs.

The full U.S. Surgeon General’s report is available here. A fact sheet of key findings is available here.