The nation's lead public health agency released an unconventional report card on itself Thursday, rating its work in selected areas pretty good but needs improvement.
"On tobacco I think we've done some things well," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. "The 'Tips From Former Smokers' campaign really was successful beyond our highest expectations. We know that it had a minimum of 100,000 people quit smoking for good. We also know that there has been progress in some areas but we have plenty of real challenges with new products like flavored little cigars that are increasing utilization. We've got kids increasingly using e-cigarettes. So they're challenges and some of the data we're just going to have to see where it goes."
The report card comes about three years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the unusual step of elevating a handful of problems above dozens of others. The CDC called the selected problems "winnable battles," and concentrated most of its uncommitted funding to fighting them.
Thursday's report is a self-assessment of how the war is going.
"Overall I'm quite encouraged by it," said Dr. Frieden. "Overall it's certainly at least as much progress as we could have reasonably expected when we launched this four years ago. But, not as much progress as we needed to keep America safe and healthy."
CDC officials say they're mostly pleased. Others applaud the agency but note that the agency could have selected some other important and more controversial targets.