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September 26, 1990

An Opportunity to Oppose: Physicians' Role in the Campaign Against Tobacco

JAMA. 1990;264(12):1581-1582. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450120093037

Cigarette smoking and other uses of tobacco are the single most important preventable cause of death in our society. Physicians have a responsibility to inform patients of the health consequences of smoking, to assist patients who do not smoke from starting, and to help smokers to kick the habit. Physicians should make use of the prestige and credibility of their medical training and their position in their communities to speak out on the dangers of smoking in every appropriate forum.

Recently, I released a report entitled Smoking and Health: A National Status Report.1 Regrettably, the death rate from tobacco-related disease remains shocking. Each year, smoking kills almost 400 000 Americans; that is more than 1000 persons a day, accounting for greater than one of every six deaths in our country. The number of Americans who die each year of diseases caused by smoking exceeds the number of Americans who