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Reflecting on 50 Years of Progress

Logo for 50th Anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health: 1964-2014January 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, we have increased 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 480,000 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.

The landmark report also laid the foundation for tobacco control efforts in the U.S. Through the efforts of tobacco control professionals, advocates and researchers the work has continued to move forward. Learn about the progress of tobacco control in the 50th Anniversary on Smoking and Health Video and Podcast Series, featuring interviews from key leaders in the fight against tobacco.

Tobacco Use Epidemic in the U.S.: Is 50 Years of Progress Enough? 


Get Involved

As part of the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, the Office of the Surgeon General developed several resources to promote and share highlights from the last 50 years of tobacco control efforts. You can be a part of the effort to share information on the dangers of tobacco use. Find resources to help promote the anniversary.  

Fact Sheets

Photo of 4 Fact Sheets on SmokingThese fact sheets have been created for public health officials and others, and provide information taken from Surgeon General’s Reports about smoking and its connection to specific diseases and health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There are also fact sheets addressing smoking risks for particular population groups, such as women, youth, and men and women concerned about reproductive health. The fact sheet “What You Need To Know About Smoking” also includes tips for smokers who want to quit.

Past Reports