Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First tobacco warning came 50 years ago

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. 

On Jan. 11, 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer in men, a likely cause of lung cancer in women and a likely cause of emphysema and chronic bronchitis - now known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  

This was a clarion call in the fight against tobacco use, which is the leading cause of preventable death and illness today in the United States. 

Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, has called for a "recommitment by the nation to end tobacco use, and free us from the terrible toll it takes on our health and future. We can’t afford another 50 years.”

In 1964, the American Lung Association was known as the National Tuberculosis Association. And just as the TV series "Mad Men" reminds us, smoking cigarettes in the office, in restaurants, almost everywhere, was not only not shunned, it was condoned and almost encouraged. 

I remember in my own childhood home, where no one smoked, we had ash trays on every end table and coffee table. And when I started working as a newspaper reporter in the early 1970s, nearly all of my colleagues smoked. Newsrooms smelled like bars, and no one said a thing.

Today, with smoking bans in most buildings and restaurants, the stalwart few are banished to outdoor smoking areas from the heat of summer to the cold of winter.

In the meantime, the American Lung Association reminds us that tobacco use remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in health care expenditures and lost productivity each year. 

More than 8 million premature deaths have been avoided and life expectancy has been extended for men by more than two years and for women by more than 1.5 years over the past 50 years due in large part to tobacco control efforts such as increased tobacco taxes, smoke-free air laws, marketing and sales restrictions and cessation treatment programs, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We have made significant progress against tobacco use over the past half century, but there are still nearly 44 million smokers nationwide, more than 3,000 kids pick up their first cigarette every day, and more than 443,000 people in America will die from smoking-related diseases this year," said John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society.

"The main reason: The unscrupulous tobacco industry continues to oppose tobacco control efforts, challenge proven tobacco control policies in court, manipulate products to get around existing regulations, produce and promote new tobacco products and spend billions of dollars on marketing to deceive the public and to addict more kids."


Anonymous said...

The 1964 report was news to nobody. When I was a kid in the late 50's and early 60's everybody called cigarettes "coffin nails." Lark cigarettes came with a coupon that you could save to get free stuff when you had enough. We used to joke that if you timed it right you could get the coffin you needed to be buried in for free.

I don't smoke and never have. Same with the rest of my family.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

― C.S. Lewis

Anonymous said...

My dad smoked from age 15 to 80. His dying day was something he looked forward to, so as to end the relentless years and years of misery suffering from COPD, Emphysema, Bronchitis and immobility from lack of oxygen. Those health issues drained him of all normal heath functions which plagued him for his entire retirement years till his death. He lost his personal dignity as well because he had no strength to bath himself or clean himself up after urine and bowel movements.
This is the end result of smoking, not death, but the continuation of declining health over many years until you can no longer get that last breath. The misery is a slow painful decline of your abilities and comfort which can last for many years.
Is it not easier to be miserable for a few months of trying to quit smoking, vs. the many years of inevitable misery?
How about a new warning, or should I say "Stink Alert". You smoke? You Stink! Your cloths stink. Your car stinks. Nobody wants to be near you and nobody wants to hear your persistent noisy coughing. Can't shake the habit? Are you tough enough for a tattoo but too wimpy to stop smoking?
Get a grip on your life. You won’t get another one.
- Words of warning and In loving memory of my father D.R.L.

Ez pen said...

Quite interesting and different post.. Keep posting..Stay blessed!!

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