"We need to focus particular attention on these disadvantaged populations," providing access to treatment, health insurance and local clinics providing help in breaking the smoking habit, she said.
Her views were supported by Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who called for coverage for smoking cessation programs under Medicare and Medicaid, the government healthcare programs for the elderly and the poor. He also encouraged Congress to raise the federal cigarette tax by $2 and use a portion of the proceeds for quit-smoking initiatives.
"What is most disturbing about this report is the wide gulf between the devastation caused by smoking and what our country is doing to reduce it," Myers said in a statement.
In California, the average price of a pack of cigarettes is more than $4, according to his organization.
Although some of the previous 27 surgeon general's reports on smoking have raised the likelihood, or certainty, that smoking increased the risk of a variety of diseases, the new document goes further, stating in case after case that "the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship" between smoking and a specific condition.