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Surgeon general links smoking to even more illnesses - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Surgeon general links smoking to even more illnesses

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NEW YORK -

Lung cancer and heart disease are just the beginning. A new report from the U.S. surgeon general now links smoking to many more cancers and diseases.

"Diabetes, liver cancer, colon cancer as well as erectile dysfunction. Of every three cancers in the United States, one of those cancers is caused by cigarette smoking," said Boris Lushniak, the acting U.S. surgeon general.

Macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and certain birth defects are also on the list.

Despite the warnings, about 18 percent of Americans smoke. That's down dramatically from 42 percent in 1964.

Dr. Benjamin Toll runs a smoking cessation program at Yale University. He uses medication and counseling.

"The first year post-quit is generally a vulnerable time, so we need to personalize treatment to make sure that patients don't relapse," Toll said.

Tim Hession is in the program and is using the patch. After 40 years of smoking, he hasn't had a cigarette in more than five months.

"I had tried many, many times to quit and I was getting disgusted with myself for being unable to quit," Hession said.

Some 20 million Americans have died from smoking-related diseases since that first report back in 1964. Nearly half a million people will die in the coming year.

The surgeon general is calling for more price hikes on cigarettes and expanding indoor smoking bans.

According to the report, 2.5 million people have died from secondhand smoke in the past 50 years.

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