"Remarks by C. Everett Koop at press conference releasing the 1983 Surgeon General's Report on 'The Health Consequences
of Smoking: Cardiovascular Disease'" [Reminiscence]
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Koop, C. Everett
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Tobacco, Second-Hand Smoke, and the Campaign for a Smoke-Free America
Remarks by C. Everett Koop at Press Conference Releasing the 1983 Surgeon General's Report on 'The Health Consequences
of Smoking: Cardiovascular Disease' (November 17, 1983)
Vol. 4 -- # 19
Press Conference Releasing 1983 Surgeon General's Report on "Health Consequences of Smoking: Cardiovascular Disease"
November 17, 1983
The problem of smoking and health is on the desk of every Surgeon General when he or she arrives in Washington. The law requires
that once a year the Surgeon General prepare a report on the status of smoking and health in some particular facet of current
knowledge, which is then presented to the Congress by the Secretary of Health and Human Services by way of the Assistant Secretary
for Health. This is the second of eight such reports that I delivered during my two-term tenure as Surgeon General of the
These press conferences were usually the largest held in Washington, and at times they developed into hostile exchange between
members of the press representing tobacco industry publication, and the Surgeon General. It was not unusual for a reporter,
representing tobacco, but nevertheless admitted to the press conference to tease some obscure fact out of the Surgeon General's
Report and attempt to trip him on it by an open question from the floor.
My preparation for the answers to such questions was one of the most difficult tasks I faced once a year, and I eventually
got it down to a science where I anticipated as many questions as possible, prepared brief pertinent answers to such questions,
and then placed them in a three-ringed binder with tabs on three sides of the pages. My handling of the first such press conference
was the turning point in my relationship with the press, before that a disastrous hostility, and after that a supportive adjunct
to my mission.
This press conference covers a report of 374 pages bound in a book and to list the topics covered would be like the book's
index. Instead, I am listing just the major subtitles of the book, which are covered briefly in the press conference, more
deeply the questions and answers, but really found in their entirety in the report.