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May 20, 2020

Reducing Tobacco-Related Morbidity and Mortality—A Call to Action

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Disease, UCSF Fresno, Fresno, California
  • 2Kansas City VA, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
JAMA Cardiol. Published online May 20, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.0996

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the Unites States, but, regrettably, society has paid less attention to tobacco compared with other causes. Prior to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) coverage, over the last few years, the media has focused awareness predominantly on suicide, gun violence, and opioid-related mortality. While these issues elicit justifiable concern, it is now time to focus more on tobacco. Cigarette smoking is the main source of tobacco’s morbidity and mortality, and its mortality is greater than that caused by activities receiving the greatest attention. In 2017, there were 47 000 deaths by suicide, 14 500 deaths by gun violence, and 70 000 opioid-related deaths.1 In contrast, tobacco accounted for nearly 500 000 deaths with a total economic cost of more than $300 billion annually and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.2

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