New Surgeon General's report reveals even more smoking dangers

New Surgeon General's report reveals even more smoking dangers

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By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The list of deadly diseases linked to cigarette smoking is growing, and it doesn't just include cancer.

When restaurant cook Jake Lonas takes a break, it's with cigarette in hand.

"You don't really get a break if you don't smoke in a kitchen."

Lonas and other smokers learned Friday they're at an even greater risk for all kinds of health problems.

The new Surgeon General's report warns smoking also causes a form of type 2 diabetes,  macular degeneration which can lead to blindness, erectile dysfunction, and rheumatoid arthritis.

It can make asthma worse and cause cleft lips and palates in fetuses, running from mild to severe abnormalities affecting feeding. They require surgery to repair.

Dr. Leonard Brabson. a local OB/GYN, just got the news Friday morning.

"We've known about the growth in babies born of smoking mothers are smaller, more prematurity, and those make sense but why cleft palate? I don't know. I was a little surprised," said Brabson. "It's a fact that's been observed and one more thing we can talk about."

The new report also links for the first time liver cancer and colorectal cancer to tobacco use, making for a total of 15 cancers the government says are caused by cigarette smoking.

Michael Holtz with the American Cancer Society says cigarettes are even deadlier today than 50 years ago because of differences in the way they're made.

"The packaging, all the chemicals, all of the formaldehyde, the benzenes and all of the 4,000 plus chemicals that make up a cigarette," said Holtz.

The new report also says exposure to second hand smoke puts you at risk for stroke.

Holtz says the new findings only bolster his agency's legislative lobbying efforts to get more funding for smoking cessation programs, as well as more support for tobacco tax increases and the smoke free law.

"We in Tennessee still have large holes in our smoke-free law, so there are still workers exposed to second hand smoke in their workplace," said Holtz. "That's a loophole we hope one day to close. The political will is not there, certainly, now but hopefully this new report will add fire to that so to speak."

Lonas says the new health risks and maybe peer pressure might help him kick the habit.

"It's the new year. I have plenty of friends who quit smoking for the new year. I'm really the only one who didn't.

If you'd like help with quitting smoking, call the Tennessee Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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