Cigarettes' link to cancer: 50 years later

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jan 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-08 19:22:46-05

January 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the United States Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

The report was the first time a link was drawn between lung cancer, heart disease and smoking.

Since that time, the number of people smoking in the U.S. has dropped by nearly half to 19 percent, according to the American Cancer Society

That has been after long road of anti-tobacco campaigning.

A commercial that ran in the U.S. for Camel cigarettes in 1940 shows a doctor endorsing the brand. The advertisement says, "More doctors smoke Camel than any other cigarettes."

But advertisements are much different now showing the severe side effects smoking can have on the human body.
In the 21st century, lighting up comes in many different flavors.

Doctor Stephen Thornton with the University of Kansas Hospital Poison Control Center warns against the new, more popular e-cigarette which is a growing $2 billion industry often promoted by the Hollywood elite.

"I do believe the electronic cigarettes are here to stay," Thornton said. "Cialis, which is another erectile dysfunction drug, has been found in some of these products and that's probably just the tip of the iceberg."

Smoking hookah is also a booming business as the lounges are popping up all over the city like at J Lounge Hookah Bar on Main Street which is just six months old and flanked by several others.

Owner Joseph Balcha said it's a relaxing, social experience.

"It's not like a cigarette. You just don't smoke all day, you smoke it for a certain time," Balcha said.

Doctors like Thornton warn there is just not enough research on either and that both hookah and e-cigarettes remain a highly unregulated industry.

Although smoking cigarettes has been on the decline, there are still 44 million smokers nationwide and tobacco continues to claim the lives of more than 443,000d Americans each year, according to the American Cancer Society.