Tobacco misconceptions still prevail in the US, despite the dramatic drop in smoking rates since the release of the first Surgeon General's Report on smoking and health in January 1964.
Experts at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center dispel common myths and share new educational resources to address this persistent challenge.
"Since 1964, smoking rates have dropped by more than half as a result of successful education, legislative and smoking cessation efforts," Lewis Foxhall, M.D., vice president for health policy at MD Anderson, said.
"Still, lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer and the leading preventable cause of death in the United States," he said.
With the approaching 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's Report, Foxhall and other MD Anderson experts urge the public to take a proactive stance against this pervasive health issue by gaining insight on current tobacco issues including information that disproves the following myths.
Even though it's belied that almost no one smokes any more, about 43.8 million people still smoke. That's almost one in five people in the United States.
"The current percentage of smokers is 19 percent. That's significantly lower than the 42 percent in 1965," Foxhall said.
"However, the actual number of people smoking today is close to the same," he said.
Another myth is that e-Cigarettes, cigars and hookahs are safe alternatives, but the fact is all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and hookahs, have nicotine. And it's nicotine's highly addictive properties that make these products harmful.
One more myth is that infrequent, social smoking is harmless, but truth is any smoking, even social smoking, is dangerous.
One of the biggest myth is that smoking outside eliminates the dangers of secondhand smoke, but in reality there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause harm.