Fifty years ago, the Surgeon Generals office made a bombshell announcement. It was the first time the U.S. acknowledged the relationship between smoking and both lung and heart diseases.
When this report was first released back in 1964, it was the first time a Surgeon General said that smokers had a 70% greater chance of death, and were more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. This landmark report launched one of the biggest public health campaigns in U.S. History, including everything from warning labels on cigarettes to anti-smoking laws.
In the 50th anniversary report health officials estimate that since the first Surgeon General's report was made, they've added up to 20 years of life for eight million Americans.
According to our local health officials here in the Mountain State smoking continues to be a top risk factor for the state's number one killer of heart disease.
"We have one in five people die from smoking in our state, and that's a huge cost. A lot of that cost is born through health insurance providers and through companies, and if we had fewer people smoking we'd have much longer lives, and a higher quality of life," said Robert Anderson, researcher with the WVU School of Public Health.
5 News spoke with some local residents to see what they think of the tobacco control and prevention ads and warning labels in the last 50 years, and while some said it made them think twice about putting down that next cigarette, others admitted they just kind of ignore the label all together.
"It doesn't make me think twice, unfortunately I've had family die from different types of cancer, especially lung cancer. So that makes me think more than the label does," said Shawn Ganoe.
"I've been smoking for probably 30 years, and it's never had any effect on me. I try to quit every day," said Pat Tucker.
More than 440,000 Americans still die from smoking every year, according to the Center for Disease Control, and approximately 3,900 people under the age of 17 will pick up a cigarette for the first time this year alone.
Jan 09, 2014 at 6:24 AMAre you aware that the medical profession considers a 90 year old that has smoked...as being ill from smoking? Yep. Uh, maybe a 90 year old dying is just due to 'old age.'
Then we have a lot of folks with lung cancers that have never lit up a cigarette in their lives. So there really isn't any way to really say 'why' someone gets these cancers. It's just too convenient for drs to 'assume' cigarettes are the cause of all diseases/cancers. It's not! Or those who never smoked would never get these diseases. How about genetically-modified foods? How about our govt allowing certain levels of mercury, arsenic, in our water, foods as being 'okay?' Oh yeah, THAT wouldn't cause diseases in people now would it? Ridiculous how medical community and govt pretends cigarettes is the ONLY bad things causing all these heart diseases, cancers. Fluoride....read about what it really is and then tell me this doesn't cause cancer! Govt finds it 'acceptable' to poison our water with it though. But they don't want to have that conversation; it's easier to blame the sick for being sick than to 'explain' to the sick why govt officials 'allow' gmo's, pesticides, fluoride, hormones, antibiotics in our meat, veggies, milk and water!