Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States, yet more deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
In 2009, an estimated 20.6% of all American adults age 18 and older—46.6 million people—smoked, and every day another 850 young people age 12 to 17 began smoking on a daily basis. As a result of widespread tobacco use, approximately 443,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, each year. An estimated 49,000 of these deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure. For every person who dies from tobacco use, another 20 suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.
Tobacco use poses a heavy burden on the U.S. economy and medical care system. Each year, cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion in medical care costs, while secondhand smoke costs an additional $10 million. Tobacco use is thus one of the Nation’s deadliest and most costly public health challenges.
Healthy People 2020 includes over 1,200 objectives to monitor and improve the health of all Americans over the decade. The objectives are organized into 42 Topic Areas, each representing an important public health area. To determine the success of Healthy People, it is important to track and measure progress for the objectives over the decade. Healthy People relies on many diverse data systems including:
– National censuses of events (like the National Vital Statistics System)
– Nationally representative sample surveys (like the National Health Interview Survey)
– Other valid and reliable data sources (like the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute)
Healthy People 2020 provides a framework for action to reduce tobacco use to the point that it is no longer a public health problem for the Nation. Research has identified effective strategies that will contribute to ending the tobacco use epidemic, including:
– Increasing the price of tobacco products
– Enacting comprehensive smoke-free policies
– Expanding cessation treatment in clinical care settings and providing access to proven cessation treatment to all smokers
– Implementing hard-hitting anti-tobacco media campaigns
– Fully funding tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels
– Controlling access to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and combustible and non-combustible products
– Reducing tobacco advertising and promotion directed at children
The Healthy People 2020 Tobacco Use objectives are organized into 3 key areas:
– Tobacco Use Prevalence: Implementing policies to reduce tobacco use and initiation among youth and adults.
– Health System Changes: Adopting policies and strategies to increase access, affordability, and use of smoking cessation services and treatments.
– Social and Environmental Changes: Establishing policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, increase the cost of tobacco, restrict tobacco advertising, and reduce illegal sales to minors.
Preventing tobacco use and helping tobacco users quit can improve the health and quality of life for Americans of all ages. People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk of disease and premature death. Benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, but quitting tobacco use is beneficial at any age.