For Immediate Release
December 14, 2010

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

New Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco Smoke and Disease Reinforces
Kansas Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use and Exposure

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is highlighting a new U.S. Surgeon General’s Report that describes specific ways by which tobacco smoke damages the human body and leads to disease and death.  This report reinforces the importance of the State’s efforts to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. The report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, was released late last week by U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin.

The report finds that cellular damage and tissue inflammation from tobacco smoke (including occasional smoking and secondhand smoke) are immediate, and that repeated exposure weakens the body’s ability to heal the damage.  Exposure to tobacco smoke quickly damages blood vessels throughout the body and makes blood more likely to clot.  This damage can cause heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death.

“The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale causing damage immediately,” Dr. Benjamin said in releasing the report. “Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer.”

“Kansans exposure to secondhand smoke where we work and play has been greatly reduced with the enactment of the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act this summer,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas State Health Officer and KDHE Director of Health. “This Surgeon General’s report provides additional scientific evidence of the importance of eliminating non-smokers exposure to tobacco smoke and helping current smokers quit.”  

The report provides new insight into why quitting tobacco is especially challenging and details the ways in which tobacco products are designed to be more attractive and addictive than ever before.  Cigarettes today deliver nicotine more quickly to the heart and brain. The report states that adolescents’ bodies are more sensitive to nicotine, and adolescents are more easily addicted than adults.  This helps explain why the 2006 Kansas Adult Tobacco Survey found that 73 percent of Kansas current adult smokers reported they became regular smokers before or at the age of 18.

To support tobacco cessation for adults and adolescents, KDHE provides free cessation counseling through the toll-free Kansas Tobacco Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW.  Currently the Quitline is also offering free nicotine patches or gum to qualified Kansas tobacco users while supplies last.  Quitline enrollment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Through the Quitline, a counselor works with the caller during one-on-one phone calls to prepare for a quit date and create a plan to fight cravings and face other challenges. Follow-up calls are arranged around participants’ schedules.

KDHE’s Tobacco Use Prevention Program provides resources and assistance to community coalitions to develop, enhance and evaluate state and local tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives.  For additional information about the Kansas Tobacco Use Prevention Program visit www.kdheks.gov/tobacco. To view the Surgeon General’s Report and related documents visit www.surgeongeneral.gov.