On this day January 11, 1964

United States Surgeon General Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry, M.D., publishes a report saying that smoking may be hazardous to health. It is the first such statement ever made by the U.S. government.

luther_terryHis statement has had a worldwide impact and is still part of the basis of tobacco control efforts today.

Shortly after the release of this report, Terry established the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, which he chaired, to produce a similar report for the United States.

Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States, released on January 11, 1964, concluded that lung cancer and chronic bronchitis are causally related to cigarette smoking.

The report also noted out that there was suggestive evidence, if not definite proof, for a causative role of smoking in other illnesses such as emphysema, cardiovascular disease, and various types of cancer. The committee concluded that cigarette smoking was a health hazard of sufficient importance to warrant appropriate remedial action.

In June 1964, the Federal Trade Commission voted by a margin of 3-1 to require that cigarette manufacturers “clearly and prominently” place a warning on packages of cigarettes effective January 1, 1965, stating that smoking was dangerous to health, in line with the warning issued by the Surgeon General’s special committee. The same warning would be required in all cigarette advertising effective July 1, 1965.

The landmark Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health stimulated a greatly increased concern about tobacco on the part of the American public and government policymakers and led to a broad-based anti-smoking campaign.

It also motivated the tobacco industry to intensify its efforts to question the scientific evidence linking smoking and disease. The report was also responsible for the passage of the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, which, among other things, mandated Surgeon General’s health warnings on cigarette packages.

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