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April 24, 1972

Junk Mail Quantitated

Author Affiliations

Boston City Hospital

JAMA. 1972;220(4):589. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200040101039

To the Editor.—  From July 1, 1971 to Jan 1, 1972, I saved all unsolicited mail received as a medical resident:Judging from the mailboxes of colleagues, this was average, and the 67,384 interns and residents in this country (218:1232, 1971), receive 8,456,692 lb advertising mail annually. Physicians in practice undoubtedly receive much more. This burden for the postal system, secretaries, mail deliveries, and trash collectors is probably 95% unread. Seventeen average-sized trees produce one ton of paper.1 Thus, house officers receive 4,228.35 tons of junk mail per year, accounting for the disappearance of 71,882 trees.Reasons for eliminating "give-away journals" have been stated by Greenwald.2 Physicians concerned about reducing the amount of unwanted mail they receive could follow the suggestion of Heyde and request that their names be put on the "no promotional mail list" at the AMA Central Office. His mail was reduced by 75%.