January Physician Focus: Smoking, Tobacco, and Health

Fifty years ago this January, then-U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Luther Terry, M.D.  issued the nation’s first comprehensive report on the dangers of tobacco. The landmark document  marked the start of the nation’s public health campaign against tobacco and smoking.

Since that first effort in 1964, 36 additional reports on tobacco from the Surgeon General have followed, testifying to the topic’s critical importance and the intensity of the campaign.

Although the last five decades have seen much progress in reducing tobacco use among all ages, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in the U.S., contributing to more than 440,000 deaths annually. Nearly 44 million Americans still smoke, and tobacco use claims a huge portion of the nation’s health care costs – at $96 billion a year.

The January edition of Physician Focus, Smoking, Tobacco, and Health, examines the impact of tobacco on personal and public health on the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report.

It looks at how far we’ve come in reducing tobacco use since that first report, tobacco’s particular link to young people, what can be done to further reduce the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products, the challenges posed by new products such as e-cigarettes, and ways for people to quit smoking.

Guests are Alan Woodward, M.D. (photo, right), Chair of Tobacco Free Mass, a member of the Massachusetts Public Health Council, and a past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society; and Douglas Ziedonis, M.D., M.P.H. (center), Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Hosting this edition is James Kenealy, M.D. (left), a physician with ENT Associates in Framingham.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts and online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus and www.physicianfocus.org.

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