Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. A press conference was held at the White House this morning to commemorate decades of anti-smoking efforts with the release of the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking. Keynote speakers included Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Assistant Secretary Dr. Howard Koh, and the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak.
Past successes, current challenges, and alarming statistics were presented during this morning’s conference. Sec. Sebelius reflected on past campaigns, namely Tips from Former Smokers, and congratulated advocates for their achievements in shifting societal norms and enlightening Americans about the dangers of smoking. Since 1964, the anti-tobacco community has succeeded in driving smoking out of airplanes, many restaurants, colleges, etc., and the Tips campaign alone reported helping over 100,000 individuals quit smoking. Despite these accomplishments, Sec. Sebelius acknowledged that the U.S. is still very much addicted to tobacco.
In his speech, Dr. Lushniak repeated the phrase, “Enough is enough!” and stated that since the first Surgeon General’s report in1964:
- Over 20 million premature deaths could be attributed to cigarette smoking.
- Smoking has been linked to diseases of nearly all organs, to diminished health status, & harm to the fetus.
- Smoking risks for women have risen sharply & women are now as likely to die from smoking as men.
- Compared to men, women are as likely to die from smoking & more die from chronic lung disease.
- Smoking is now known to cause 13 different types of cancer. In 1964 officials could only be sure about lung cancer in men.
- The smoking rate is down to 18%, from 42%.
- Smokers have a greater risk of developing lung cancer, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes.
- The annual costs to the nation from smoking are approaching $300 billion.
So much has been done over the past 50 years, but there is still much work to do to make the next generation tobacco-free. Please visit the Surgeon General’s website for more information.
This video features Tips ad participants Terrie Hall, Brandon Carmichael and Roosevelt Smith, discussing their experiences during and after the Tips campaign.