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5 Insights from 2020 Surgeon General Smoking Cessation Report

5 Insights from 2020 Surgeon General Smoking Cessation Report

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams recently released Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General, which highlights the critical need to get quit-smoking support into the hands of the millions of U.S. smokers.

The Surgeon General first released a report on the benefits of smoking cessation in 1964. More than 50 years later, here are 5 key findings from the 2020 Surgeon General smoking cessation report:

  1. Tobacco use remains the #1 cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Today, about 34 million American adults smoke. Most of them smoke daily and have been smoking since adolescence. Every year, smoking kills 480,000 Americans, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths. As many as 16 million Americans live with chronic disease as a result of smoking.
  2. More than half of smokers don’t receive advice to quit. There’s been an increase in healthcare providers advising patients to quit smoking; however, the findings indicate that 4 out of 9 adult smokers who saw a health professional still do not receive advice to quit.
  3. Evidence-based treatments work and are cost-effective. Quitsmoking medications and behavioral methods are both effective cessation strategies, especially when used in tandem. The new report specifically acknowledged the strong science behind digital interventions, noting that text messaging and web-based interventions, for example, can help people successfully quit.
  4. Comprehensive coverage for smoking cessation treatment makes a difference. In order for evidence-based treatments to work, they need to be used. Yet fewer than 1/3 of adults who try to quit smoking use proven cessation treatments. Comprehensive, barrier-free quitting support that’s actively promoted has been shown to increase the use of treatment services and lead to higher rates of successful quitting.
  5. Quitting smoking can make a difference at any age. Smoking cessation improves the quality of life, and reduces the risk of premature death, increasing life expectancy by as much as 10 years.                                                                                                   

As noted by the Surgeon General, we have made great progress since 1964 in reducing tobacco use in the U.S. But there is a lot more work to be done. More people die from tobacco use each year than from AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

The majority of smokers say they want to quit, and every day, thousands try to quit. Employers and health systems have an opportunity to increase their chances of success by providing access to barrier-free, evidence-based support to break free from this tenacious addiction.

The EX Program by Truth Initiative is a cost-effective, evidence-based digital program that helps tobacco users see quitting is possible. To learn more about how our program works, please watch this short overview video.


Amanda Graham, Ph.D.
Amanda Graham, Ph.D.

Chief of Innovations

As Chief of Innovations, Dr. Amanda Graham leads the Innovations Center within Truth Initiative. The Innovations Center is dedicated to designing and building leading digital products for tobacco cessation, including the EX Program. She is internationally recognized as a thought leader in web and mobile quit-smoking interventions and online social networks and has been awarded over $15 million in research funding. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves on National Institutes of Health study sections and numerous journal editorial boards. Graham is Professor of Medicine (adjunct) at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

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