University Library News
Georgia State University

50 Years of Prevention – The Health Consequences of Smoking

Fifty years ago, the Surgeon General of the United States, Luther L. Terry, M.D., released the first report on the health consequences of smoking. The report helped publicize the negative health effects of tobacco use and signaled a change in the public’s perception of smoking.

Highlights from the report include,

  • Since the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964 more than 20 million premature deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking.
  • The disease risks from smoking by women have risen sharply over the last 50 years and are now equal to those for men for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke has been causally linked to cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, and to adverse effects on the health of infants and children.
  • Although cigarette smoking has declined significantly since 1964, very large disparities in tobacco use remain across groups defined by race, ethnicity, educational level, and socioeconomic status and across regions of the country.

The full report and more information may be found on the Surgeon General’s website.  Additional information about the effects of tobacco use are available at the Tobacco Atlas (co-authored by Professor Michael Eriksen, dean of Georgia State University’s School of Public Health.)