2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco and Health.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network points to remarkable progress in the fight against tobacco and the lives saved from cancer as a result.
Since the report was released in 1964, the percentage of Americans that smoke has been cut by more than half, down from 40 percent to less than 20 percent.
However, with 43 million Americans still smoking, it is the largest preventable cause of premature death in America.
"The Surgeon General's report brought about a sea change in the way people think about tobacco 50 years ago and forever changed the course of public health," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the Society and ACS CAN, in a statement. "Before the release of the report, nearly half of American adults smoked, and less than half of the American population believed that smoking was in any way linked to cancer. Surgeon General Luther Terry's findings were the impetus the country needed to intensify public education efforts about the dangers of smoking and pass proven tobacco control policies that have dramatically reduced the smoking rate and saved millions of lives. The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN have played a central role in the nationwide decrease in smoking," Seffrin said. "In fact, less smoking may be the biggest reason that death rates from cancer have declined since the early 90s, saving 300 more lives per day. But with tobacco still the primary cause of lung cancer, the No. 1 cause of cancer death, we have more work to do to prevent many more thousands of needless deaths every year."
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