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50th Anniversary


January 11th marks the 50th anniversary of U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry's groundbreaking report on smoking and health, which first made it clear for Americans that smoking causes illness and death.

The American Heart Association is very proud to have played a role in the progress we've seen over the last 50 years. Thanks to the hard work of public health advocates like you, we've seen smoking rates cut in half, a significant reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke, resources made available to help smokers quit and to prevent our kids from picking up the habit.

Despite truly incredible progress in the fight against tobacco use, it remains the leading preventable cause of death in our country, killing 443,000 Americans each year. Clearly, we still have work to do.

The American Heart Association joined other leading public health and medical groups January 8th  to call for a renewed national commitment to ending the tobacco epidemic for good. At a press conference in Washington, DC, the groups laid out three bold new goals.

  • Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18%, to less than 10% within 10 years.
  • Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within 5 years.
  • Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., said "In the half century that has passed since the landmark 1964 report, the American Heart Association's commitment to protecting the health of all Americans from the scourge of tobacco has never wavered. While we are proud of our accomplishments and the many lives saved, we cannot let our guard down for one minute when it comes to this public health epidemic. We must continue to fight at the federal, state, and local levels until we make America 100 percent tobacco free."

To learn more, check out this article just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association: "The 50th Anniversary of the US Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco: What We've Accomplished and Where We Go From Here"

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