FLASHBACK--Surgeon General: More People Will Die From Cigarette Smoking Than From Coronavirus This Year

By Susan Jones | April 6, 2020 | 7:44am EDT
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on Sunday that this will be "the hardest and the saddest week" of our lives, as the death toll from coronavirus continues to climb above the current 9,600-plus.

"This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that," Adams told "Fox News Sunday."

But then he offered some perspective on the death toll: "And more people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from coronavirus this year."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day."

Adams made the point about smoking deaths after host Chris Wallace asked him if President Trump should impose a nationwide "stay at home" order.  Nine states have not done so:

"Well, Chris, it's important to understand that most people across the country are doing the right thing. Over 90 percent of the country is staying at home. And a good proportion, more than average, are staying at home even in those nine states," Adams said:

But the last time you and I talked, it was about opioids. People don't know, but I've run a state department of health. I've been involved in health for years. And diseases don't respect state lines, but we live in a country where we have a system of federalism. And when it comes to opioids, states have different rules and regulations and laws regarding treatment, regarding syringe service programs, as you and I have talked about.

I actually put out a report on tobacco cessation earlier this year. And we know that states have different laws there. And more people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from -- from coronavirus this year.

And so we always are struggling with trying to get information out to guide people that we know will help them be healthy with states' rights.

But it's why we put out these thirty days to stop the spread guidelines. These are essentially our national stay-at-home order. And we're working with governors to figure out their needs, their desires.

One more important point. The nine states that haven't yet done shelter-in-place orders are states that actually produce a large amount of our food. So they're struggling with issues concerning what -- how they can provide for the rest of the country to be able to stay at home.

But right now, my -- what I would say to those governors is, if you can't give us a month, give us what you can. Give us a week. Give us whatever you can to stay at home during this particularly tough time when we're going to be hitting our peak over the next -- next seven to 10 days.

Adams said the nation's governors "are intensely protective of their right...to be able to decide what's best for their states."

"And we're going to do everything we can as scientists and as physicians, as medical professionals, to help them understand what we think the right thing is for them to do.

"And so I just want everyone to know that, from a national perspective, the surgeon general was saying, no matter where you are, stay at home. At least give us a week or two, if you can.

"We want you to do it for 30 days, but even in those nine states, give us what you can so we can get this peak and start to come down on the other side."

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