Hype: Surgeon General takes another aim at youth smoking

At least one claimed effect (decline in FEV1) is clinically insignificant and the others are reversible with smoking cessation.

The Washington Post reports:

Smoking during the teenage years stunts lung growth and accelerates the decline in their function that inevitably comes with age. At the same time, the habit damages blood vessels in ways that can later lead to a heart attack, stroke and aortic rupture.

Those are among the findings of an 899-page report by the U.S. surgeon general on tobacco use by young people.

The last such report, in 1994, spurred a public health campaign that caused a marked drop in teenage smoking, especially after 1998. Since 2007, however, that trend has leveled off, and tobacco use is increasing in some groups and categories.

“Two people start smoking for every one who dies from the habit each year,” Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said. “Almost 90 percent of those ‘replacement smokers’ first try tobacco before they are 18.”

Among the more remarkable findings is how early and measurably smoking damages the youthful body.

A study of nearly 700 children from East Boston found that those who started to smoke at age 15 exhaled 8 percent less air in one second – a key measure of lung function – than nonsmoking teenagers. The growth of lung capacity stopped a year earlier in smokers – at 17 in girls and 19 in boys – than in nonsmokers…

Read the entire report.

Read “Surgeon General Jumps the Shark.”

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