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Commentary |

Did We Finally Slay the Evil Dragon of Cigarette Smoking in the Late 20th Century?Cigarette Smoking: Still Alive and Well: Unfortunately, the Answer Is No—the Dragon Is Still Alive and Well in the 21st Century and Living in the Third World. Shame on Us!

Richard D. Hurt, MD; Joseph G. Murphy, MD, FCCP; William F. Dunn, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Nicotine Dependence Center (Dr Hurt), Division of Cardiovascular Diseases (Dr Murphy), and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (Dr Dunn), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Richard D. Hurt, MD, Nicotine Dependence Center, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905; e-mail: rhurt@mayo.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2014;146(6):1438-1443. doi:10.1378/chest.13-2804
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If cigarettes were introduced as a new consumer product today, it is unlikely they would receive government regulatory approval. Cigarettes have proven biologic toxicities (carcinogenesis, atherogenesis, teratogenesis) and well-established causal links to human disease. Things were very different in 1913 when the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company introduced the first modern cigarette, the iconic Camel. By the early 1950s, definitive scientific reports linked cigarettes and human disease, but it was more than a half century later (2006) that cigarette manufacturers were found guilty by a federal court of deceptive product marketing regarding the health hazards of tobacco use. In the United States, cigarette smoking remains a major but slowly declining problem. But in developing countries, cigarette use is expanding tremendously. In global terms, the epidemic of smoking-caused disease is projected to increase rapidly in coming decades, not decline. Society may have begun to slowly win the smoking battle in the developed world, but we are resoundingly losing the global war on smoking. All is not lost! There is some good news! The 2003 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, supported strongly by the American College of Chest Physicians, is the first global public health treaty of the new millennium. Many developed societies have begun planning to rid their countries of cigarettes in what is called the Endgame Strategy, and now is the time for the international medical community to help change tobacco policy to a worldwide endgame approach to rid all humanity of smoking-related diseases.


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