HOUSTON ― As an institution dedicated to ending cancer, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is committed to promoting cancer prevention and therefore supports the ‘corrective statements’ published by tobacco companies as a result of a 2006 judgment by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler. The mandated advertisements, which began appearing this week, will be a significant step toward informing Americans about the addictive power of cigarettes and the harms of tobacco use.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., claiming an estimated 480,000 lives each year. Tobacco use is also the leading preventable cause of cancer, responsible for roughly 30 percent of all cancers and 90 percent of all lung cancers.
“Although we have made tremendous progress in terms of reducing tobacco use, the CDC recently reported that 20 percent of adults in the U.S. still use tobacco products,” said Ernest Hawk, M.D., vice president and chair, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. “It’s clear that we must continue to educate the public about the dangers of tobacco use, and these statements will be an important part of that process.”
MD Anderson has a variety of programs and initiatives designed to educate the public about tobacco use and cancer risk. ASPIRE, a youth-oriented prevention and cessation curriculum, provides an engaging way for teenagers to learn about the dangers of tobacco use. Community outreach programs are available and tailored for audiences from young children to adults.
Collaborations between The University of Texas System and MD Anderson led to development of the system-wide Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative in 2016. Highlights of first-year progress include the establishment of tobacco-free policies across all 14 institutions of the UT System, comprising more than 228,000 students and 100,000 faculty and staff.
Through MD Anderson’s EndTobacco program, our experts also have served as educational resources to state and national legislators considering policies that would further reduce the burden of tobacco use in the U.S, such as raising the minimum legal age of tobacco sale to 21. The EndTobacco program is an initiative of the cancer prevention and control platform, part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™, a collaborative effort to accelerate the development of scientific discoveries into clinical advances that save patients’ lives.
“Motivated by the suffering we see each day in the lives of our patients and their families, we will continue to prioritize cancer prevention,” said Hawk. “We will continue to support the use of evidence-based prevention, cessation and control actions to reduce or eliminate the toll of tobacco use, ultimately saving thousands of lives from cancer and other chronic diseases.”