This file photo taken on April 18, 2016 shows cigarettes in an ashtray in Centreville, Virginia. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
The number of Americans who smoke has dropped to an all time low, but 40 percent of cancers diagnosed in the country is still linked to tobacco use, a U.S. government report has found.
A report released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that each year between 2009 and 2013, about 660,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with, and about 343,000 people died from, a cancer related to tobacco use.
The U.S. agency noted that smoking does not just cause lung cancer. It can also cause cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, as well as a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia.
"There are currently more than 36 million smokers in the U.S.," CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a news briefing. "Sadly, about half of them will die from tobacco-related disease, if they don't quit. This includes six million who will die from cancer unless we implement programs that will help them quit."
That means "tobacco continues to cause too many health problems and too many deaths," he said, highlighting "a persistent and preventable health threat" in this country.
However, progress has been made, said the CDC. Since 1990, about 1.3 million tobacco-related cancer deaths in the U.S. have been avoided.
In addition, another report released Nov. 10 by the CDC showed that current cigarette smoking among U.S. adults declined from 20.9 percent, or 45.1 million people, in 2005, to 15.1 percent, or 36.5 million, in 2015.
During 2014-2015 alone, there was a 1.7 percentage point decline, resulting in the lowest prevalence of adult cigarette smoking since the CDC began collecting such data in 1965.
But progress among different groups has been inconsistent, said Frieden. For example, there are higher rates of cancer in men, in low income areas, in areas with lower levels of education and among African-Americans.
"There's a lot that can be done," Frieden added.