Anti-smoking campaigns have helped prevent hundreds of thousands of U.S. lung cancer deaths since 1975, according to a new federally funded report.
Researchers said declines in cigarette smoking since the mid-1950s – prompted, in part, by anti-tobacco campaigns since the 1964 U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health - prevented nearly 800,000 lung cancer deaths between 1975 and 2000.
The National Cancer Institute-funded study, published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was conducted by a consortium of six research groups in the U.S. and the Netherlands led by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
For the study, researchers with the NCI's Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network, tracked American smoking trends between 1890 and 1970s, then estimated the impact of changes in smoking patterns resulting from tobacco-control efforts on lung cancer deaths between 1975 and 2000.
"This is the first attempt to quantify the impact of changes in smoking behaviors on lung cancer mortality based on detailed reconstruction of cigarette smoking histories," said lead researcher Dr. Suresh H. Moolgavkar, with the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division.
Since the mid-1960s, tobacco-control efforts in the U.S. have restricted smoking in public places, increased in cigarette excise taxes, limited underage access to cigarettes and increased public awareness smoking risks.
Among the researchers’ findings:
• If American smoking patterns had not changed after the Surgeon General's report, an additional 552,000 men and 243,000 women would have died of lung cancer.
• If all U.S. cigarette smokers had quit smoking after the 1964 report -- and no one else started smoking -- 2.5 million people would have not died from lung cancer.