Surgeon General's Report on Smoking Cessation Highlights Evidence-Based Ways to Help People Quit

January 23, 2020

Statement By American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) President Howard A. "Skip" Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO

"The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) applauds the Surgeon General for releasing its first report on smoking cessation in 30 years. The report provides the latest evidence-based information on the public health consequences of tobacco use and effective ways to help people quit smoking. 

"Smoking rates in the United States are at a historic low of 14% of the population. That's down from nearly 43% of the population in 1964 when the Surgeon General released its first report on the hazards of smoking. 

"Despite such a remarkable decline in smoking rates, 34 million Americans still smoke and considerable disparities in smoking rates remain among certain groups. Furthermore, tobacco use remains the top cause of preventable diseases and is directly linked to 12 different cancers. 

"One major conclusion in the report is that there is not enough evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes increase smoking cessation and that preventing young people from becoming e-cigarette users should be a top priority for public health advocates. 

"Cancer care providers should do everything in their power to prevent people from becoming addicted to nicotine--regardless of how it is delivered. Our 2019 National Cancer Opinion Survey found that roughly one in five young adults uses e-cigarettes daily or recreationally and nearly one in four believes the products are harmless and not addictive, despite evidence to the contrary. 

"The Surgeon General's report highlights that 40% of smokers are not advised by health providers to stop smoking, despite the fact that 70% want to quit. With this gap in mind, ASCO remains committed to promoting tobacco cessation and its resources to help oncologists incorporate the topic into daily cancer care."