"Release of 1982 Report on Health Consequences of Smoking" [Reminiscence]
Number of Image Pages:
2 (124,767 Bytes)
Koop, C. Everett
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Tobacco, Second-Hand Smoke, and the Campaign for a Smoke-Free America
Release of 1982 Report on Health Consequences of Smoking (February 22, 1982)
Vol.#l - 15
"Release of 1982 Report on Health Consequences of Smoking"
This is a seminal report from the Surgeon General to Congress on smoking (formally presented by the Secretary of Heath and
Human Services) but it is also an extremely important turning point in the relationship between me, the new Surgeon General,
and the press corps. This report was really from 1981, but postponed until I was finally in office.
All during the time between the announcement of the designation of C. Everett Koop by President Reagan as the Surgeon General
until the Confirmation on November 16, 1981, the press had been hostile, frequently reporting what they had read in other
press accounts rather than doing original research. Non had bothered to have an interview with me and indeed only one article
in the print media was published during the aforementioned time that might be considered favorable or complementary to me,
the designated Surgeon General - and this was by a freelance reporter and appeared in the Washington Post.
This was the Press Conference, which forced the press corps to reconsider my probable effectiveness as Surgeon General. It
was the beginning of a long and increasingly warm relationship between me and the press and essentially marked the end of
the adverse criticism of me by the press; their point of view was changed by this Press Conference and I was more and more
appreciated by the press corps as time marched on.
It's interesting to compare the statistics on page 5 and contrast them with later reports on the same subject throughout
my tenure as Surgeon General.
This report announces the formation of the Coalition of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the
American Lung Association into a group known as "Smoking or Health" which worked hand in glove with me throughout
the ensuing years.
Although this particular 1982 report was on the specific relationship between smoking and cancers of various types, the presentation
covered the subject of smoking like dew covers the ground and was one of the reasons for its broad acceptance by the press
corps and voluntary government agencies involved in the smoking issue. The charts included with this report were on easels
at the front of the Press Conference room of the Humphrey Building. In subsequent years, as the annual reports on smoking
and health became more detailed and comments and questions more critical scientifically and politically, these Press Conferences
grew to be the largest in Washington and anyone with a press pass was permitted to attend. That included people who worked
on the editorial boards of publications of the tobacco industry itself and the questions became increasingly detailed, piercing,
and at times traps set for me. The preparation for this press conference required days of my personal preparation with many
editorial advisors trying to guess the questions in order to give appropriate and final answers.
In a sense, except for the numbers, this report is as apropos today as it was in 1982 indicating that the fight against smoking
really never becomes outdated.
1982 Report to Congress on smoking or health - Press conference - critical