May 24, 2021
Today, we begin planning for the end of the sale of [combustible] tobacco products. Many other products have been pulled from store shelves for causing far less harm than tobacco. Consumer goods shouldn’t kill consumers, and the tobacco industry has been given a free pass for far too long.
Tobacco is the only consumer good that kills when used exactly as intended. Other products require overuse or misuse to cause damage.
“We have been aware of tobacco’s deadly effects for decades. Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of cancer, which will kill about 5,600 Kansans this year,” said Roy Jensen, MD, vice chancellor and director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. “Research shows that 19 percent of all cancers could be eradicated if people no longer smoked. It is time to phase out the sale of tobacco.”
About 16 percent of Kansas adults smoke, higher than the national average of 14 percent. More than 4,400 Kansans die of tobacco-related disease each year. Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in Kansas.
The joint letter released today is the result of an ever-growing network of researchers and advocates who agree that it cannot be normal for a retail product to kill its consumers. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH US) and several other key partners host this community under the umbrella program named Project Sunset, which seeks to set the sun on big tobacco.
“For decades, tobacco companies have falsely claimed they’d stop selling cigarettes if proven deadly,” said ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber. “Clearly, they didn’t mean it, and will continue as long as it is profitable. So, it’s up to governments to protect their citizens from tobacco products and from the tobacco industry by planning to phase out the sale of combustible tobacco.”
There has already been progress in the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States, as well as several European nations.
It is past-time for every government to incorporate ending tobacco sales in their work plan, just as they have prioritized and addressed COVID-19. The tobacco pandemic death toll rivals that of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one substantial difference: the tobacco pandemic reaches that death toll every single year, not just once in a lifetime.
About The University of Kansas Cancer Center:
The University of Kansas Cancer Center is transforming cancer research and clinical care by linking an innovative approach to drug discovery, delivery and development to a nationally accredited patient care program. Our consortium center includes cancer research and health care professionals associated with the University of Kansas Medical Center and The University of Kansas Health System; the University of Kansas, Lawrence; The Stowers Institute for Medical Research; Children’s Mercy; and in partnership with members of the Masonic Cancer Alliance.