Surgeon General in Indy; marks 50-year anti-smoking campaign

(Photo Credit: CDC)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health.

The report started the anti-smoking movement in 1964, when nearly 45 percent of Americans smoked.

Play ball! Brooklyn Dodger baseball brought to you by the makers of Lucky Strike,” proclaimed one television commercial.

Congress banned cigarette commercials from TV in 1971.

Car racing is another sport that historically embraced tobacco sponsors: from NASCAR and Formula 1 to the Indy Racing League.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was the Winston Cup Series until 2003.

In 2014, travelers can’t imagine smoking on planes, but that wasn’t the case in the 1960s.

“When you traveled on an aircraft and you were served a meal, you got a four-pack of cigarettes with your meal and everybody got those,” said Don Shopland with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Then came bombshell news in 1964.

“[The] strongest relationship between cigarette smoking and health is in the field of lung cancer,” U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry announced. “There is a very strong relationship and probably a causal relationship between heart disease and cigarette smoking.”

The Surgeon General’s Report from 2014 shows that smoking rates among adults and teens are less than half of what they were in 1964, but there’s still work to do.

The report shows that 42 million American adults and about 3 million middle and high school students continue to smoke today.

Further, it shows that nearly half a million Americans die prematurely from smoking each year.

While Camel Cash and Marlboro Miles are things of the past, the campaign continues to make future generations tobacco free.

“Fifty years ago, it was polite to ask somebody, ‘Would you like a smoke?’; today it would be deeply impolite not to ask, ‘Do you mind if I smoke?’” said Dr. Tom Frieden with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tuesday in Indianapolis, the U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak is meeting with the Indiana Department of Health and the CDC.

Experts say primary goals in the anti-smoking movement today are to keep kids from smoking and the fight against secondhand smoke.

Click here to read the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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