Remarks as prepared; not a transcript.
Admiral John Agwunobi
Thank you, RADM Moritsugu.
I’d like to thank the Surgeon General for his leadership on this report.
In recent years, the United States has made remarkable progress preventing young people from starting to smoke, helping adults who smoke to quit, and protecting nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Since the time of the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964, the percentage of American adults who smoke has been halved from over 40 percent to under 21 percent. More Americans are former smokers than current smokers, and per capita cigarette consumption has fallen to its lowest level since the Great Depression.
In the area of reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, we have seen unprecedented progress at the individual, community, and state level. As a result, over the past 15 years, the proportion of nonsmoking Americans with detectable levels of secondhand smoke has been cut in half.
Yet, while we’ve come very far, we still have a long way to go. Tobacco use and secondhand smoke continue to take an unacceptable toll on America health and wellness.
Forty-four million American adults continue to smoke and tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Every year, 440,000 Americans die prematurely of a tobacco-related illness; and for every person who dies, 20 more are living with at least one serious tobacco-related illness.
Even with all the progress we have made in reducing secondhand smoke exposure, more than 126 million nonsmoking Americans continue to be frequently exposed. Secondhand smoke causes tens of thousands of heart disease deaths and approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths among American nonsmokers every year. It is clear that we still have our work cut out for us. The findings of this Report will help guide us in our efforts.
Last revised: January 8, 2007