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November 6, 1981

Preventing the Last Epidemic: II

Author Affiliations

From the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

JAMA. 1981;246(18):2035-2036. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320180027023

A RECENT report to the US Congress by the Federal Trade Commission indicates that as many as 80% of Americans now know that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. Two out of three are aware of the connection between smoking and heart disease. How have they come to know this? Who told them?

Since the release in 1965 of the Surgeon General's report on the health hazards of cigarettes, physicians have taken the lead in spreading the message. They have done this both in their role as personal physicians, talking to individual patients about the possible medical consequences of their actions, and in campaigns of public education that are sometimes complemented by government intervention. For example, in its recently expressed opposition to federal tobacco subsidies, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association took another important step in its efforts to prevent contemporary epidemics of cigarette-associated diseases.

In the last