Cigarette Smoking and Cancer in the U.S.


Cigarette smoking in the United States has been prevalent since the early 1900s, with approximately 3.5 billion cigarettes being sold. In 1965, congress passed legislation to place the surgeon general warning on every box of cigarettes sold in the United States. Prior to this, many Americans were not well informed or educated about the effects of cigarette smoke or even knew that it warranted a warning. Modern cigarettes are not solely comprised of only tobacco, many of them contain harmful chemicals many of which are and have been attributed to causing cancer. In addition to this, smoking cigarettes has also been attributed to negatively affecting the immune system, so much so that it will compromise the ability of the body to defend itself against viruses and general illnesses. As per the CDC, lung cancers are mostly caused by the direct consumption of cigarettes or inhaling second-hand smoke from cigarettes. As time has progressed, modern medicine has been able to make significant advancements in not only the detection of these types of cancers, but also in their treatment.

According to the CDC, “lung cancer still kills more men and women than any other type of cancer. In the United States, more than 7,300 nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by second-hand smoke” (CDC, 2022). A more significant point that stands out is that smoking cigarettes does not only increase the likelihood of lung cancer, but it has also been attributed to the development in cancer in other organs such as the bladder, colon, cervix pancreas and stomach as well. One of the more effective methods in addressing and reducing these numbers would be detailed and informative education for the public as well as increasing overall public awareness of the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes through public advertisement that would target youths as well as the most vulnerable members of society.

As cancer registrars, it is very important to capture the patient’s smoking status. Participating registries are required to collect smoking status information. Capturing this type of information can aid in determining the more detailed effects smoking has on cancer, treatments, clinical decisions, and cancer outcome research. It is important to know if the patient was a smoker, if they still were actively smoking or how long they had quit smoking. Capturing all this information will assist in drawing a more detailed picture of this activity (smoking) truly impacts the patients and society as a whole. Accurate documentation is vital in order to identify significant trends, and other attributing factors that play a role in increasing or reducing the chances of developing distinct types of cancers that are specifically associated with cigarette smoking or direct exposure to secondhand smoke within any given demographic.


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