Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States

Cover page of the report

Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States was a landmark report published on January 11, 1964[1], by the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, chaired by the then Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry, M.D., regarding the negative health effects of tobacco smoking.[2] Although it was not the first such declaration—or even the first declaration by an official of the United States of America—it is notable for being arguably the most famous such declaration and has had lasting and widespread effects both on the tobacco industry and on the worldwide perception of smoking.

Background

The health effects of tobacco had been debated by users, medical experts, and governments alike since its introduction to European culture.[1] Hard evidence for the ill effects of smoking became apparent with the results of several long-term studies conducted in the early to middle twentieth century, such as the epidemiology studies of Richard Doll and pathology studies of Oscar Auerbach. On June 12, 1957, then-Surgeon General Leroy Burney "declared it the official position of the U.S. Public Health Service that the evidence pointed to a causal relationship between smoking and lung cancer".[1] A committee of the United Kingdom's Royal College of Physicians issued a report on March 7, 1962,[3] which "clearly indicted cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer and bronchitis" and argued that "it probably contributed to cardiovascular disease as well."[4] After pressure from the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the National Tuberculosis Association, and the American Public Health Association, President John F. Kennedy authorized Surgeon General Terry's creation of the Advisory Committee. The committee met from November 1962 to January 1964 and analyzed over 7,000 scientific articles and papers.