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United States Tobacco Milestones

Since the release of the first Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health in 1964, smoking rates in the United States have dropped by more than half. Inspired by this initial report, below are some of the major educational, legislative and smoking cessation efforts that have contributed to this decline in the past 50 years.

smoking tobacco1964: The first Surgeon General’s Report linking smoking and health is published.

1966: Health warnings first appear on cigarette packs.

1975: Minnesota is the first state in the United States to pass a statewide law that requires separate smoking areas in public places goes into effect.

1980: First Surgeon General’s Report on women and smoking is released.

1984: Nicotine gum is first approved drug to help people quit smoking.

1986: First Surgeon General’s Report officially acknowledging and emphasizing the harmful effects of secondhand smoke is released.

1987: Congress prohibits smoking on domestic flights of less than two hours.

1988: First Surgeon General’s Report confirming that nicotine is addicting is released.

1988: California is the first state in the United States to approve a proposition to increase the cigarette tax by 25 cents and use some of the revenue to create the first comprehensive statewide tobacco control program.

1991: For the first time in more than 25 years, more than half of the United States adult population were non-smokers or had smoked less than 100 cigarettes during their lifetime.

1994: First Surgeon General’s Report on youth and tobacco is released.

1995: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declares nicotine a drug.

1998: Attorneys General from 46 states and the tobacco industry reach the landmark Master Settlement Agreement to reimburse state government for tobacco-related health care costs.

1998: The American Legacy Foundation is established through funds from the Master Settlement Agreement to prevent teen smoking and help smokers quit. This not-for-profit organization is responsible for the truth anti-youth smoking campaign.

1999: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases the first document detailing how state tobacco control programs should be structured to prevent smoking and help smokers quit.

2004: The United States signs the world’s first tobacco control treaty. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty establishes international tobacco control guidelines. The treaty has not been sent to the U.S. Senate as yet for ratification.

2006: Senior U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler rules against the tobacco industry, stating they deceived the American public for 50 years on health issues and marketing to children.

2009: President Obama signs legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over tobacco products.

2010: President Obama signs law that includes provisions to expand tobacco cessation benefits and establishes the Prevention and Public Health Fund to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

2010: Marketing restrictions on tobacco products take effect, specifically for those targeting youth. Cigarette companies are prohibited from using "light", "low" and other misleading health descriptors.

2011: The Food and Drug Administration reveals new graphic warning labels set to appear on cigarette packs. The 2012 start date has been delayed or overturned.

2012: First Surgeon General's Report on youth and young adult tobacco use is released.

2012: CDC launches the first federal government paid media advertising campaign encouraging people to quit smoking.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center