Smoking Continues To Be Major Source Of Preventable Disease In US

Dr. Brian Rostron PhD, MPH Center for Tobacco Products US Food and Drug Administration Silver Spring, Interview with:
Dr. Brian Rostron PhD, MPH
Center for Tobacco Products
US Food and Drug Administration
Silver Spring, Maryland

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Rostron: We estimated that Americans in 2009 had had 14 million major medical conditions such as heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD that were attributable to smoking.  COPD was the leading cause of smoking-attributable morbidity, with over 7.5 million cases of COPD attributable to smoking.

Medical Research: What was most surprising about the results?

Dr. Rostron: It wasn’t completely a surprise, given that previous research has found similar results, but the large majority of people with COPD as measured by respiratory testing reported that they had never been diagnosed with this condition by a physician.  As such, COPD prevalence estimates based on self-report of medical diagnosis in national health surveys tend to underestimate the prevalence of this condition.  To account for this underreporting, we used COPD prevalence estimates based on either self-report of a medical diagnosis or meeting a clinical standard of moderate to very severe COPD based on spirometry data.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Rostron: Smoking continues to be a major source of preventable disease in the US.  Smokers should quit smoking as soon as possible, and clinicians should advise and help smokers to do so.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Rostron: This study reflects the efforts of researchers at FDA and CDC over several years.  Now that we have national estimates of smoking-attributable morbidity, it will be interesting to examine trends over time with this methodology.  Further research is also needed to examine this issue of COPD reporting as well as the economic and health costs associated with this disease burden.


Rostron BL, Chang CM, Pechacek TF. Estimation of Cigarette Smoking–Attributable Morbidity in the United States. JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 13, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5219.

Last Updated on October 15, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD