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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

C Everett Koop's Fight Against Big Tobacco

The battle against big tobacco has been going on for over thirty years, perhaps being one of the biggest health battles of the 20th century. It is no secret that billions of dollars have been amassed by tobacco companies at the costs of millions of lives. The restrictions present today are the result of tireless effort by a handful of individuals. One of the biggest advocates of tobacco sanctions and restrictions was the former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Sadly, he died at the age of 96; one of his biggest accomplishments was issuing the first government warning about secondhand tobacco smoke, Bloomberg reports.

During Koop’s eight years as Surgeon General he focused more on tobacco than on any other issue. Accusing the tobacco industry of deceptive advertising, and issued a landmark Surgeon General’s report in 1986 putting forth the first government warning tying secondhand smoke to lung cancer. Koop’s goal was a smoke-free society by 2000 and laws restricting smoking in workplaces and public spaces, which he was able to accomplish before the time of his passing.

While Koop was in office smoking rates dropped from 38 percent to 27 percent, according to The Washington Post. 

The Surgeon General website notes, “Although the Public Health Service had been calling attention to the danger of tobacco smoking since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, its anti-tobacco campaign was relatively low-key until invigorated by Koop’s persistent efforts to speak out on the subject.”
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