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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Applauds Surgeon General’s Report: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease

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EAGAN, Minn. (Dec. 9, 2010) – “Today,  the U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin released a report that says exposure to tobacco smoke — even occasional smoking or secondhand smoke — causes immediate damage to the body that can lead to serious illness and even death,” said Marc Manley, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Prevention Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross). “The report, ‘How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease,’ represents the 30th Surgeon General’s report on tobacco’s devastating effects and provides detail on how tobacco smoke harms.

 “Specifically, the report warns that damage from tobacco smoke is immediate as more than 7,000 chemicals reach our organs, blood stream and cells so quickly that there is no safe level of exposure. Even low levels of secondhand smoke can cause inflammation in blood vessels and thereby increase chances for heart attack or stroke, weaken our immune systems and damage DNA cells, increasing cancer risk by one-third. Smoking longer means even more cell damage,” Manley continued. “The report also states that the design and content of tobacco products today makes them more attractive and addictive than in the past, as these products deliver nicotine to the heart and brain more quickly. So the big takeaway message is people need to quit smoking as early in life as possible – or better yet – never start.

See related items for links to more information, including the Blue Cross report that shows smoking claims more than 5,000 lives in Minnesota each year and costs $2.87 billion annually.