Archived Story

Public policy stands test of time

Published 10:17am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

As anti-government sentiment grows in this country — thanks, in large part, to the tea party — the 50th anniversary of a landmark report on smoking is a reminder that good public policy does stand the test of time.

Indeed, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says 8 million lives have been saved since the anti-smoking campaign was launched with warning labels on cigarette packs.

The battle was prompted by a report released on Jan. 11, 1964, by then U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry that said smoking causes illness and death.

Terry also strongly advocated government action.

At the time, 42 percent of adults in America smoked.

Today, the smoking rate of 18 percent translates to more than 43 million.

Public health officials point out that smoking is still far and away the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. And despite the numerous anti-smoking initiatives, including states such as Ohio banning smoking in public places, large numbers of Americans will light up for decades to come.

But without the commitment of Surgeon General Terry and his successors to not only dissuade adults from smoking, but to keep cigarettes away from minors, the number of addicts today — and the incidence of smoking related diseases and deaths — would be many times greater….

It is clear that while enormous progress has been made not only to change habits but prevent young people from taking up smoking, there is still a public health epidemic.

 

The (Youngstown) Vindicator

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