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Surgeon General Warns Smoking Could Kill 5.6M Kids If Nothing Changes

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File photo of a man smoking a cigarette. (credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

File photo of a man smoking a cigarette. (credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A report issued by the United States surgeon general indicates that 5.6 million children throughout the country might die prematurely if current tobacco use rates fail to decline.

CBS News is reporting that acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak is calling upon state and local governments, as well as businesses and individuals, to end smoking within one generation.

“Enough is enough,” Lushniak said in a telephone interview. “We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation.”

Over 20 million Americans are said to have died prematurely because of smoking, due to the many health risks it is said to come with, including cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, stroke and heart disease.

“We’re up to 13 right now – 13 different cancers associated with smoking in 2014,” the acting surgeon general noted.

Lushniak hopes to combat the issue through a combination of aggressive media campaigns, tobacco taxes and smoke-free air policies, among other measures and initiatives.

“It’s not just the federal lead on this anymore,” he told CBS News. “To get this done, we have to go to industry. We have to go to healthcare providers and remind them that this problem is not yet solved.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a reported 18.1 percent of high school students told researchers that they had smoked one or more cigarettes in the month prior to being asked by them in 2011.

“Each day in the United States, nearly 4,000 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,000 youth in that age group become new daily cigarette smokers,” officials additionally noted on the center’s official website. “This means that nearly 400,000 young people become daily smokers each year.”

The CDC also credits smoking as the cause of more deaths each year than illegal drug and alcohol use, firearm-related incidents, HIV and motor vehicle injuries combined, CBS News learned.

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