In January 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General's office released its first report on smoking and health, a comprehensive scientific review which identified cigarettes as a major public health hazard. Fifty years later, the impacts of that landmark document are still being felt. Dr. Luther L. Terry, who served as Surgeon General at the time of the report's release later recalled that it "hit the country like a bombshell."
The report quickly shifted public attitudes about smoking. Within months, the Federal Trade Commission ordered cigarette manufacturers to place a warning label on their products. In 1969, cigarette advertising on American TV and radio was banned.
Surgeon General's Report on Smoking & Health—50th Anniversary: 1964-2014
Since the initial report, adult smoking rates have been cut in half. However, tobacco remains a major killer of Americans. Smoking - which is linked to 11 different types of cancer, chronic lung disease and heart disease - remains the leading cause of preventable and premature death in this country.