January 11, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. The 1964 landmark report, released by Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry, was the first federal government report linking smoking and ill health, including lung cancer and heart disease. This scientifically rigorous report laid the foundation for tobacco control efforts in the United States.
In the last 50 years, 31 Surgeon General’s Reports have been released, increasing our understanding of the devastating health and financial burdens caused by tobacco use. We now know that smoking causes a host of cancers and other illnesses and is still the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing 443,000 people each year.
In 2014, we highlight half a century of progress in tobacco control and prevention, present new data on the health consequences of tobacco use, and introduce initiatives that can potentially end the tobacco use epidemic in the United States in the 32rd Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress.