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November 23, 1984

Changing climate seen in efforts to tell public about smoking, health

JAMA. 1984;252(20):2797-2799. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350200001001

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A few days ago, President Reagan signed into law the Smoking Prevention and Health Education Act.

"This is an indication that those who are concerned about smoking and health are gaining strength. This bill could never have passed Congress three years ago," declares Matthew L. Myers, JD, a Washington, DC, lawyer and director of the Coalition on Smoking or Health. An even more realistic assessment of the bill's passage comes from David N. Sundwall, MD, a professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources chaired by Sen Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, one of the bill's sponsors. "It's astonishing it got through at all," Sundwall says.

The legislation represents a "national public education effort designed to improve our awareness about what the surgeon general has said is the No. 1 preventable cause of death—cigarette smoking," Sen Hatch said during the final debate on the bill. "This