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50th anniversary of feds report on dangers of cigarettes recognized

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the federal government's first recognition that cigarette smoking was harmful.  

Pulmonologist Steven Brown, who volunteers for the Wisconsin chapter of the American Lung Association, said the Surgeon General's report came at a time when half of American adults smoked.

He said teachers smoked in classrooms, bank tellers smoked at their windows, fliers smoked on airplanes, and cigarettes were given out as party favors.

At the same time, he said tobacco companies cried foul against Surgeon General Luther Terry's report on January 11th of 1964. They gave all sorts of denials that the product was hazardous to your health. They paid billions for that stand more than three decades later, in the form of settlements with state governments.  

Smoking is still prevalent -- and it's much more expensive due all of the taxes slapped on cigarettes. About 18 percent of Americans smoke, and Brown tells the Wisconsin Radio Network he'd like to see that cut to 10 percent or less over the next decade.  

The Lung Association and others also want to see reduced exposures to second-hand smoke, and to ultimately eliminate diseases and deaths caused by tobacco.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)