Saturday, August 23, 2008

1964 U.S. Surgeon General's Report Smoking and Health

Truncating the growth of the domestic U.S. cigarette market

Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking 1964 - Institutional Event

In 1964, 46 percent of all Americans smoked. They did it in offices, airplanes, elevators and hospitals. Cigarette commercials filled TV airwaves. Even cartoon programs were sponsored by cigarette brands.

So when Surgeon General Luther L. Terry issued the report of his special commission on smoking in January 1964, it was front page news. For the first time, Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General emphatically linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases.

To many people, the findings were not entirely surprising. Evidence of smoking as a cause of lung cancer had surfaced much earlier. For that reason, a national commission was requested in 1961 by an alliance of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the National Tuberculosis Association and the American Public Health Association.

Terry’s 10-man commission met in late 1962. After 14 months of studying 7,000 articles with more than 150 consultants, the commission reported that average smokers had a nine- to tenfold risk of developing lung cancer compared to nonsmokers. Heavy smokers had at least a twenty-fold risk. The report also implicated smoking as a cause of chronic bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease.

Following the release of the report, Congress required all cigarette packages to carry health warnings. They also banned all broadcast cigarette advertising, beginning in 1970.

Information provided by BCBSNC.

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