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Surgeon General’s Cigarette Warning Turns 50

Saturday January 11th marks a milestone in the effort to raise awareness about the harmful and possibly deadly effects of smoking cigarettes.

Fifty years ago this weekend the surgeon general announced that smoking causes cancer and probably heart disease.

Fifty years ago, the warning label did not exist on a pack of cigarettes.

But on January 11, 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry announced that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer and other health problems.

Doctor Jacqueline Lee is a surgeon with Geisinger Heart and Vascular Institute.

She said 50 years of awareness has come far but still not far enough.

“Lung cancer continues to be the number one cancer killer in the United States for men and woman,” said Dr. Lee. “So as a thoracic surgeon you see people, they either have something concerning lung cancer or who already has been diagnosed with cancer, so when you talk to them more, most of them are smokers.”

At a tobacco shop in Scranton, smokers were running in to grab a pack.

Many said that warning label isn`t going to stop them from taking a puff.

“I don`t think because it`s everybody`s opinion if they want to smoke or not, I`ve been smoking since I was 14 years old,” said Carmelita Rivera of Scranton.

But for non-smokers they applaud the way the country has changed over the last five decades, including the raised awareness of dangers of secondhand smoke.

“There`s millions of people that die every year still from it even though they know the addiction of it and the dangers of it, so bringing light to it helps people get healthy and be healthier,” said Erin Kreist of Dunmore.

However there are some smokers that said that warning label does make them think about kicking the habit.

“Every time you see it on the pack of cigarettes it`s just mental reminder that you must at some point have to quit smoking,” said Norman Obery of Scranton.

Dr. Lee said there are plenty of products for quitting smoking, however the main things to have are a good support system, willpower and just to remember it will take time.


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