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1964 surgeon general's report may have saved 8 million in U.S.

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tobacco banEight million U.S. lives were saved by anti-smoking measures enacted since a pivotal surgeon general's report 50 years ago this month, researchers estimate.

First author Theodore R. Holford, professor of biostatistics and member of Yale School of Public Health's Cancer Center, and six other researchers who are part of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network found about 17.6 million Americans died since 1964 due to smoking-related causes. However, 8 million lives were saved by increasingly stringent tobacco-control measures that commenced with the Jan. 11, 1964, release of a surgeon general's report on the affects of smoking.

The researchers used mathematical models to calculate the long-term effect of the report, and subsequent anti-smoking measures, over the past half-century.

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry convened a committee of specialists who reviewed about 7,000 scientific articles and worked with more than 150 consultants to formulate the report's findings. It was released on a Saturday in order to generate maximum media coverage in Sunday's media.

It is seen by many as a pivotal moment in American public health and as the opening salvo in an ongoing effort to convince people to stop smoking, Holford said.


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