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Historic smoking report marks 50th anniversary

January 4, 2014 • National News


ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY, JAN. 5, 2014 AND THEREAFTER – FILE – In this Thursday, April 14, 1994 file photo, heads of the nation’s largest cigarette companies are sworn in before a hearing of a House Energy subcommittee which was holding hearings on the contents of cigarettes on Capitol Hill in Washington. More than 40 states brought lawsuits demanding compensation for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. Big Tobacco settled in 1998 by agreeing to pay about $200 billion and curtail marketing of cigarettes to youths. From left are Robert Sprinkle III, executive vice president for Research American Tobacco Co.; Donald Johnston, American Tobacco; Thomas Sandefur Jr., Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp.; Edward Horrigan Jr., Liggett Group Inc.; Andrews Tisch, Lorillard Tobacco Co.; Joseph Taddeo, U.S. Tobacco Co.; James Johnston, RJ Reynolds; and William Campbell, Phillip Morris USA. (AP Photo/John Duricka)

ATLANTA (AP) — Fifty years ago, ashtrays seemed to be on every table and desk. Athletes and even Fred Flintstone endorsed cigarettes in TV commercials. Smoke hung in the air in restaurants, offices and airplane cabins. More than 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked, and there was a good chance your doctor was among them.

The turning point came on Jan. 11, 1964. It was on that Saturday morning that U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released an emphatic and authoritative report that said smoking causes illness and death — and the government should do something about it.

In the decades that followed, warning labels were put on cigarette packs, cigarette commercials were banned, taxes were raised and new restrictions were placed on where people could light up.

“It was the beginning,” said Kenneth Warner, a University of Michigan public health professor who is a leading authority on smoking and health.

It was not the end. While the U.S. smoking rate has fallen by more than half to 18 percent, that still translates to more than 43 million smokers. Smoking is still Login to read more

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