By: Vivek H. Murphy, MD, MBA, U.S. Surgeon General
Eliminating tobacco use seemed like an impossible task when the first
Surgeon General's report on smoking came out in 1964. Almost half of our
population smoked, and tobacco use was everywhere from airplanes and
restaurants to sports and magazines. However, one year ago this month, when
we released the Surgeon General's Report, The Health Consequences of
Smoking-50 Years of Progress, we recognized how much progress we've made in
lowering those statistics-from nearly one in two to now less than one in
five American adults who smoke cigarettes.
Our goal, as described in the 50th anniversary report, is to reduce the
smoking rate to less than 10% for both youth and adults in 10 years
(currently 15.7% and 17.8% respectively). With the release of the 50th
anniversary report, we directly called on all sectors of society to help
make the next generation tobacco-free. Our partners answered that call with
remarkable action. These are just a few examples of the incredible work done
on the local, state, and national levels this past year:
.New Orleans City Council unanimously passed an ordinance extending
smoke-free protection to most public spaces, including bars, clubs and
.Columbia, MO, Evanston, IL, and Hawai'i County raised the age for legal
tobacco sales to 21 years old.
.Chicago, IL and Houston, TX prohibited smoking in their public parks.
.The University System of Georgia and University of California system became
tobacco-free, adding 31 and 10 campuses, respectively, to the more than
1,500 college campuses now with similar policies.
.CVS Health committed to stop selling all tobacco products at its 7,700 plus
stores and to rolling out a robust smoking cessation program.
.Legacy's truth campaign began enlisting youth to "FINISH IT" and become the
first tobacco苯ree generation.
.The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention released robust multimedia campaigns to prevent youth from
starting and help adults quit smoking, respectively.
Reflecting on the 50th anniversary year, I am inspired by how much was
accomplished by working together - across sectors from the private sector to
education to local government - in just one year. Never before have we had
so much momentum toward ending the most preventable cause of premature death
in this country.
As we embark on the 51st year of first Surgeon General Report, let us
celebrate the progress we have made, while not losing the momentum and
inspiration for continuing this work. The #20Million Memorial, a social
media effort also launched in 2014 by CDC, reminded us of the more than 20
million Americans who have died from smoking and secondhand smoking since
that first Surgeon General's Report. The 50th anniversary report
demonstrated that without more action, 5.6 million American children alive
today will die prematurely because of tobacco use.
For the lives of our children and our communities, we cannot stop now. Let's
carry on the efforts of the last half century to put an end to the tobacco
epidemic. Together, we can help the next generation be tobacco-free.
To learn some more tips to quit smoking go to: