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January 8, 2014

The War Against Tobacco: 50 Years and Counting

Author Affiliations
  • 1Associate Editor, JAMA
  • 2Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison
JAMA. 2014;311(2):131-132. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280767

Fifty years ago this week, Luther Terry, then surgeon general of the United States, convened a press conference to release the first surgeon general’s report Smoking and Health.1 Prior to release, the details of the report were shrouded in secrecy, and a Saturday release date was chosen to minimize the report’s effects on financial markets. The report—based on review of an estimated 7000 documents—concluded that “cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking outweighs all other factors; and the risk of developing lung cancer increases with the duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked per day, and diminishes by discontinuing smoking.”1

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