Fifty years after a 1964 report concluded cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, Dr. Boris Lushniak, acting surgeon general, released a new report titled, The Health Consequences of Smoking -- 50 Years of Progress, which says smoking was identified as a cause of serious diseases of nearly all the body's organs.
Rheumatoid arthritis and colorectal and liver cancer are among the smoking-caused diseases listed in the report.
In addition, the report concludes secondhand smoke exposure is known to cause strokes in non-smokers.
"Smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did when the first Surgeon General's report was released in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes," Lushniak said in a statement.
"How cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain have changed over the years, and some of those changes may be a factor in higher lung cancer risks."
Over the last five decades, more than 20 million Americans died from smoking, and cigarette smoking kills nearly a half-million Americans a year, with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related conditions, the report says.
Cigarette smoking costs more than $289 billion a year in direct medical care and other economic costs, Lushniak said.
One-of-13 children and teens who are under 18 will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases unless current smoking rates drop, the report says.
A half-century ago, about half of the U.S. population smoked tobacco, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found cigarette smoking among U.S. adults declined from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 18.1 percent in 2012.
The prevalence of smoking tobacco in 2011 was significantly higher among males at 20.5 percent than females at 15.8 percent.
More than 17 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 smoked, 21.6 percent ages 25 to 44 smoked, 19.5 percent ages 45 to 64 smoked and 8.9 percent of those age 65 and older smoked, the CDC said.
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