“Today Surgeon General Benjamin made it crystal clear — there is no safe level of smoking, no safe cigarette, and no unharmful levels of second-hand smoke. Our nation owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Dr. Benjamin for bringing together the best science and reporting to the nation that damage from exposure to toxic tobacco smoke is immediate and a cause of death for 440,000 Americans every year,” said Dr. Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the nation’s leading Hispanic health advocacy group.
In issuing her first Surgeon General’s Report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease, Dr. Regina Benjamin reported that there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. She reported that when you inhale cigarette smoke, either directly or secondhand, you are inhaling more than 7,000 chemicals and that the impact of inhaling those chemicals is immediate. The inhaled chemicals are rapidly absorbed and produce disease-causing cellular changes and impair the immune system. The report, with support from 64 contributing scientists, reviews 45 years of research since the first Surgeon General report on tobacco was released.
According to Dr. Delgado, “While Hispanics have traditionally been the group least likely to smoke, new data released this year shows that Hispanic eighth graders are now more likely to smoke than their peers. It is a recruitment of new smokers by the tobacco industry that must be shut down, but smoking prevention and cessation funding has been cut by states to their lowest levels. Defunding tobacco prevention and cessation is short sighted and puts the health of adults and youth at risk”
In releasing the Surgeon General’s report today, Dr. Benjamin noted that one of her key hopes was that people would learn what tobacco smoke means to their health and smokers quit and non-smokers avoid secondhand smoke. Along with the 2010 Surgeon General’s report, she released a consumer’s booklet that outlines the impact of tobacco smoke exposure and resources for quitting. To support Dr. Benjamin’s efforts, the Alliance announced that consumers could call the bilingual and toll-free Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-SU-FAMILIA (1-866-783-2645) for information and referral to free and low-cost health services in their community.
“Dr. Benjamin, who lost her mother to lung cancer, knows the tragedy of tobacco addiction in this country. We stand with her in her call to end tobacco addiction and exposure to toxic tobacco smoke. We ask along with her, if not now, when?” concluded Dr. Delgado.