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The Surgeon General’s Priorities

The Surgeon General is America’s Doctor. As Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy is responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal and public health. The Surgeon General’s Reports and Calls to Action are landmark science-based documents that highlight important public health issues. 

The Surgeon General’s priorities include:

Tobacco and Drug Free Living

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and worldwide. A tobacco free lifestyle not only means a lower risk of early death – it also means less chance of developing heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke, periodontal disease, and a host of other health conditions. The Surgeon General's Reports on the adverse health consequences of smoking and tobacco have triggered nationwide efforts to prevent tobacco use. In 2014, the 32nd Surgeon General's report on smoking and health highlighted half a century of progress in tobacco control and prevention in the U.S.

Drug abuse and excessive alcohol use leads to motor vehicle crashes, violence, unwanted pregnancy, child abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, injuries, cancer, heart disease, and lost productivity.  Prevention of these unhealthy behaviors improves quality of life, academic performance, workplace productivity, and military preparedness. 

Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Mental and emotional health is just as important to our overall well-being as our physical health. Mental illness is responsible for more disability than any other group of illnesses. But a large percentage of people with mental health conditions may not feel comfortable talking about their condition or getting effective treatment. The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health (1999) spotlights ways to overcome barriers to treatment. Positive mental and emotional well-being allows people to realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to their communities. 

Healthy Eating

A lifestyle that incorporates proper nutrition, a variety of healthy foods, and portion control is one that will reduce people’s risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and several types of cancer, as well as help them maintain a healthy body weight. The Surgeon General is committed to providing evidence-based information on healthy diets and ensuring that healthy choices are accessible, affordable, and desirable.    

Active Living

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things that people of all ages can do to improve their health.The Every Body Walk! Initiative promotes walking as a simple form of physical activity that can be done almost anywhere and supports the benefits of livable communities for Americans of all ages and ability levels. The initiative highlights the role of walking and walkable communities to create a healthier nation.

National Prevention Strategy

Most of the nation’s pressing health problems can be prevented. The National Prevention Strategy is a report that aims to guide our nation in the most effective and achievable means for improving health and well-being. 

Family Health History

To help focus attention on the importance of family health history, the Surgeon General launched the Family Health History Initiative to encourage all American families to learn more about their family’s health background.