(WASHINGTON) -- Anti-smoking advocates are in an uproar after Philip Morris International Inc. CEO Louis C. Camilleri claimed that cigarettes, though harmful and addictive, are "not that hard" to quit.
"Cigarettes are incredibly addictive, and heavy smokers have a very difficult time quitting," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society wrote in his blog. "Our statistics in this country show that, for the most part, our ability nationwide to reduce the number of chronic smokers has hit a roadblock."
Camilleri made his statement Wednesday after Elisabeth Gundersen, a nurse with the tobacco industry watchdog group The Nightingale Nurses, cited statistics that tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans and 5 million people worldwide each year.
More than 20 percent of American adults smoke cigarettes. And some studies suggest that tobacco is just as addictive as hard illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Although Camilleri clarified his statement by acknowledging that cigarettes are addictive and dangerous, many experts and advocates said that was not enough.
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