Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


8 million lives saved since surgeon general’s tobacco warning 50 years ago

A Yale study estimates that 8 million lives have been saved in the United States as a result of anti-smoking measures that began 50 years ago this month with the groundbreaking report from the Surgeon General outlining the deadly consequences of tobacco use. The Yale School of Public Health-led analysis is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study used mathematical models to calculate the long-term effect of the seminal report, and subsequent anti-smoking measures, over the past half-century. These cumulative efforts have significantly reshaped public attitudes and behaviors concerning cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, note the researchers.

First author Theodore R. Holford, professor of biostatistics and member of Yale Cancer Center, and six other researchers who are part of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network, found that while some 17.6 million Americans have died since 1964 due to smoking-related causes, 8 million lives have been saved as a result of increasingly stringent tobacco-control measures that commenced with the report’s Jan. 11, 1964, release.

Of the lives saved, approximately 5.3 million were men and 2.7 million were women. The total number of saved lives translates into an estimated 157 million years of life, a mean of 19.6 years for each beneficiary, report the researchers.

“An estimated 31% of premature deaths were avoided by this effort, but even more encouraging is the steady progress that was achieved over the past half-century, beginning with a modest 11% in the first decade to 48% of the estimate what we would have seen from 2004 to 2012 in the absence of tobacco control,” said Holford. “Today, a 40-year-old man can expect on average to live 7.8 years longer than he would have in 1964, and 30% of that improvement can be attributed to tobacco control. The gains for women have been slightly less, 5.4 years, but tobacco control accounts for 29% of that benefit.”

Using data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1965 to 2009, the team recreated smoking life history summaries for groups born each year starting in 1890. These were used along with national mortality statistics and studies that followed large populations to calculate mortality rates by smoking status. This allowed them to estimate the impact of alternative scenarios for what might have occurred had the era of tobacco control never happened.

The tobacco warning was released by then-U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry. It is seen by many as a pivotal moment in American public health and as the opening salvo in an ongoing effort to convince people to stop smoking.

Terry convened a committee of specialists who reviewed some 7,000 scientific articles and worked with more than 150 consultants to formulate the report’s findings. It was released on a Saturday in order to generate maximum media coverage in Sunday’s newspapers. Years after its publication, Terry referred to the report’s release as a “bombshell.”

The report has since spawned numerous other efforts at various levels of government to curb smoking. This has included the now-familiar Surgeon General’s warning on the side of cigarette packages, as well as increased taxation, restrictions on advertising, and limiting public areas where people can smoke, along with programs and products to help people kick their smoking habit.

While the number of smokers in the United States has decreased significantly over the past several decades, there are still an estimated 44 million Americans who smoke, or about 20% of the U.S. population.

Today, smoking continues to claims hundreds of thousands of lives annually and is the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States.

“Tobacco control has been a great success story for public health. We have essentially cut in half the number of tobacco-related deaths each year compared to what would have occurred in the absence of this effort. This is very encouraging, but the halfway point also means that there is more to be done,” said Holford.

Senior author on the study was David Levy of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. Other authors are Rafael Meza, Kenneth Warner, and Clare Meernik of the University of Michigan; and Jihyoun Jeon and Suresh Moolgavkar of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

This study was funded in part by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R01-CA-152956).

Helen Dodson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>