Surgeon general pushes for a cigarette-free America - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Surgeon general pushes for a cigarette-free America

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Health officials are now predicting that a cigarette-free America could be on the horizon. Fifty years ago, that may have seemed unrealistic. However, tobacco surveys show that cigarette smoking nationwide is decreasing.

Health experts and the loved ones of smokers are holding on to hope that one day, we'll see a cigarette-free America.

"My dad smoked for 30-plus years, and never did he think that cigarettes were going to change his life," says Katie Shew.

Katie's dad has been in and out of the hospital for years. He has been diagnosed with cancer twice-- both times attributed to smoking cigarettes.

"We don't know the timeline that he has. We don't know if he'll be there for my wedding," adds Katie.

We've long known the devastating health effects of smoking cigarettes. But now, the surgeon general is saying enough is enough. In a 900 page report, he's demanding health officials put an end to cigarettes once and for all.

"They've really stressed for doctors -- every time -- to ask the patient how much they're smoking," says UT Heath Northeast Pulmonary Specialist Leslie Couch.

Doctors, like Couch, aren't the only ones doing something to curb cigarette smoking.

  • Increasing cigarette taxes have made smokes more expensive
  • Many laws ban smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces
  • Airlines have long banned in-flight smoking
  • The FDA continues to push aggressive anti-smoking campaigns


The National Youth Tobacco Survey says cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and bidis (or hand-rolled Indian cigarettes) have become less popular among teens. At the same time, pipes, hookahs and electronic cigarette use is up.

"Unfortunately in East Texas, we've had a little bit of increase in teenage tobacco smoking. Part of it is we're a rural environment here and there is more smoking in a rural environment," explains Dr. Couch.

Retailers, like CVS, are vowing to stop stocking cigarettes... all to stop the devastating health effects smoking can bring.

"I don't like to see my dad in the hospitals over a cigarette. It's just crazy. I wish that my friends could have been there at the hospital with me to see what smoking causes and hopefully that would [make them] put their cigarettes down," says Katie.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says by 2024, they'd like to see the adult smoking rate down to 10 percent. Currently, about 18 percent of adults smoke cigarettes. Experts say if there are no major changes to the tobacco industry, then the cigarette smoking rate would only drop to 12 percent by 2050.

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