FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2011
Contact: HHS Press Office
Statement from Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH on World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2011
Tobacco use, the major preventable cause of premature death and disease worldwide, represents a public health catastrophe. Globally, tobacco use is projected to cause a billion deaths in this century. Every year in the United States, more than 440,000 Americans die preventable deaths from tobacco-related diseases. Every day, nearly 3,500 kids under the age of 18 try a cigarette for the first time and 850 of them become daily smokers. The suffering behind these statistics is unbearable and unacceptable.
On World No Tobacco Day, we reaffirm global efforts to end this pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently launched a strategic action plan to accelerate progress in our nation’s fight against tobacco. Next month, the Food and Drug Administration will unveil the final version of new graphic warnings for cigarette packages and advertisements, which will help motivate smokers to quit and discourage nonsmokers from starting. And through our new health reform law, we are expanding access to tobacco cessation services to help more smokers receive the services they need and deserve.
We are at an unprecedented time in our nation’s history to protect the public’s health from tobacco dependence. Please join us in our efforts to combat this public health pandemic, so that more people have a fighting chance to enjoy their full potential for health.
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Last revised: May 31, 2011