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Ending the Tobacco Epidemic

The United States has made historic progress in combating the epidemic of tobacco-caused illness and death. Despite this progress, tobacco use remains the leading cause of premature and preventable death in our nation, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year.

The cost of tobacco on our nation every day:

  • 1,200 lives of current and former smokers who died prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.
  • $260 million in direct medical spending due to smoking.
  • $270 million in lost productivity from our national workforce due to premature death from tobacco-related diseases.

As a nation we need to dramatically change the course of tobacco use. In doing so, we have the ability to save millions of lives and prevent the suffering of millions more.  

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to reducing the burden tobacco has on our nation and has made preventing and reducing tobacco use a priority.

Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan

In November 2010, HHS issued a strategic action plan that outlined actions, based on scientific evidence and extensive real-world experience that  serves as a roadmap for reaching the Healthy People objective of reducing the adult smoking rate to 12 percent by 2020.

This strategic action plan proposes a comprehensive approach designed to mobilize HHS’s expertise and resources in support of proven, pragmatic, achievable interventions that can be aggressively implemented not only at the federal level, but also within states and communities. The activities described in the plan are meant to serve as a guideline for future development, are conditional, and are subject to the availability of resources.

Implementing these actions will bring us closer to a world where tobacco-related illness is uncommon. It will take the commitment, coordination and collaboration of this Administration working with its partners in state and local government and nongovernmental partners to achieve the goal of a society free of tobacco.

Progress Toward A Healthier Nation

On August 15, 2012, HHS issued a strategic action plan progress report fulfilling the recommendation put forth in Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan for periodic reports that document progress in implementing the Plan and ultimately achieving the Healthy People 2020 objectives.

  • Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: Progress Toward A Healthier Nation [PDF - 1.96 MB]

HHS achieved measurable success in transforming goals into action. This progress report provides details about significant strides that have been made in all four major action areas:

  • Leading by example
  • Improving the public’s health
  • Engaging the public
  • Advancing knowledge.