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April 19, 1976

Drugs, Like Cigarette Smoking, Can Be Dangerous

JAMA. 1976;235(16):1725-1726. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260420041030

"Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health." These words, printed on every package of cigarettes sold in the United States for a decade or so, were the outcome of a decision based on a study by an advisory committee on "Smoking and Health." The warning, of course, resulted from promulgation of a federal regulation. Since then, nothing has been revealed that would undermine the wisdom of the committee's report or the surgeon general's decision. Indeed, supportive evidence has mounted.

The two federal agencies that have much to do with issuing regulations on matters of health and medical practice are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Recently, the FTC has decided that, for the good of the public health, physicians must advertise. Whatever that means, physicians generally have resented what they deem an intrusion. Also recently, the FDA