50th Anniversary of publication of ‘US Surgeon General’s Report’ that changed the public attitude to tobacco and smoking forever- update will re-published in US today

This week marks the 50th anniversary (11 Jan 1964) of the publication of the Surgeon General’s Report in the United States which officially highlighted, for the first time, the most serious health consequences associated with smoking.  An update to the original report will be released in the United States today.

The publication of the report received headlines all over the world, not just in the United States – and Surgeon General Luther L Terry said some 20 years later that the report “hit the country like a bombshell.  It was a front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and abroad”.

Dr Ross Morgan, Chairman of ASH Ireland said today, “The key findings of the report, none of which have been challenged or contradicted, estimated that the average smoker had a 9 to 10 fold risk of developing lung cancer, compared to non-smokers, and that heavy smokers had at least a 20 fold risk.

The report went on to state that the risk of developing lung cancer rose with duration of smoking and diminished with the cessation of smoking.  The report named smoking as the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and also stated that there was a link between smoking and emphysema and smoking and coronary heart disease. The report also referred to the reduced average weight of new born babies, born to mothers who smoked.  Interestingly, it did not state that smoking was addictive, however, this is a matter that was later clarified by medical research and laterally, after much debate, by the Tobacco Industry itself.  One notable quote contained in Tobacco Industry documentation discovered during litigation in the United States said nicotine is addictive; “Moreover, nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms.” July 17, 1963 report by then Brown & Williamson general counsel/vice president Addison Yeaman, Bates

Dr Ross Morgan went on to say, “This ground breaking report not only provided new and irrefutable medical evidence on the harm caused by smoking, but also commenced an informed public debate on smoking which thankfully is ongoing.  As early as 1968 a major survey in the United States highlighted the impact of the Terry report.  In 1958, only 44% of Americans believed that smoking caused cancer, while in 1968, 4 years after the report was published, 78% believed that smoking was a cause of cancer. The Terry report also led to almost immediate action by the US government, when in 1965 Congress required that all cigarette packs distributed should carry a health warning and this commenced the introduction of health warnings on cigarettes on a worldwide basis.  It is interesting that today we are rightly looking at the introduction of standardised packaging and graphic health warnings as the Tobacco Industry continue to use the design of the cigarette pack, as a way of marketing to young people and developing confusion with the use of colours, and slogans, in regard to the notion of there being a safer cigarette.”

Dr Morgan went on to say “All of us in the health sector, and indeed the wider population are indebted to the courage and determination of Dr Luther Terry.  He assembled a group of medical experts to assist him with his work and despite having to include the Tobacco Industry on his advisory committee, he courageously acknowledged, verified and published information which has saved thousands of lives on virtually every country on the planet.

It is important that we remember the work and courage of Dr Terry by continuing to state the facts about smoking and to inform the smoker and the potential smoker that if you smoke you will most likely die because of this, quite apart from the significant illness issues which emerge at one time or another for virtually every smoker.  Tragically 5,200 people die in this country every year from tobacco related disease so there is still much to be done in the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction”.


For contact: ASH Ireland:  0818-305055

Wally Young, Young Communications:  087-2471520




Research again highlights the importance of price increase in encouraging smokers to quit

An article published today in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ raises some vitally important issues in regard to smoking, which cannot be ignored. This article again, which is based on independent research, finds that tripling world-wide taxes on tobacco would cut smoking levels by one third and prevent over 200 million premature deaths this century. This research again confirms that price increase is the most significant factor in encouraging people to quit and deterring young people from experimenting with tobacco.

Dr Ross Morgan, Chairperson of ASH Ireland said today “this research highlights the importance of governments using taxation and related price increase as a way of encouraging people to quit. Based on this study, it does seem that smoking prevalence in Ireland could be reduced to approximately 14% of the population if significant price increases were introduced. This reduction in smoking prevalence would also have a significant impact on the massive expenditure on smoking related disease in this country; estimated to be in excess of €1 billion per annum”.

It is interesting to note that the research published today finds that the international Tobacco Industry makes approximately €36 billion in profits each year, which is approximately €9,000 for each smoking related death.

Dr Morgan went on to say “at present roughly half a billion children and adults worldwide under the age of 35 are smokers and it is dreadful to think that up to 50% of these will die prematurely or have serious health issues because of their smoking. As smoking is so addictive many people will find it difficult to quit once they commence the habit – and as a consequence they become a contributor to Tobacco Industry profits for the remainder of their lives.”

Regretfully over 5,200 people die in this country each year because they smoke and it is imperative that the government uses every possible tool to encourage these people to quit. The research published today shows that smokers who quit before the age of 40 reduce their risk of dying from the effects of tobacco use by up to 90%.

Published article available to download from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1308383


For contact: ASH Ireland: 0818-305055

Wally Young, Young Communications: 087-2471520