50 Year Anniversary of a Smokefree America - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

50 Year Anniversary of a Smokefree America

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Fifty years ago today, the Surgeon General of the United States warned that there was a direct connection between smoking cigarettes and cancer as well as heart disease.

Today, many of us are living longer because most of us don't smoke anymore.

Tony Valdez looks at the effort to create a smoke-free America.


"The strongest relationship between cigarette smoking and health is in the field of lung cancer," said Luther Terry, U.S. Surgeon General. He served as Surgeon General in the early 1960's and is best known for his warnings against smoking.  

Close to half the people watching Surgeon General Terry 50-years ago were probably smoking...

One of them was R.J. Reynolds Junior...

This is his son Patrick.
"I watched my father dying from smoking but I took up smoking myself a couple of years later and that shows how strong the lure of it is," said Patrick Reynolds of the Foundation for a Smokefree America.

R.J. Reynolds Senior was the founder of the tobacco company that manufactures Camels, Pall Mall, Winston and Kool cigarettes to name just a few.

Instead of joining the family business, Reynolds founded the Foundation for a Smokefree America in 1989.

"If you've tried to quit smoking before and failed, take comfort in the fact that a lot of people who have quit successfully failed several times," said Reynolds.

In numbers, compare 1964, when about 42% of Americans were smokers...

Today they are about 19% of the population, a drop of more than half.

But 44 million Americans are still lighting up every day.

"Our website, tobaccofree.org offers great quitting tips, they're free," said Reynolds

The urge to smoke almost always returns...

"And remember these five words, 'hold on for 5-minutes' and the urge will pass," advises Reynolds.

E-cigarettes can be a useful tool...

"Use it as a cigarette substitute for the first week of quitting, and throw it in the trash," said Reynolds.

You don't want, Reynolds warns, to develop another addiction.

In Los Angeles, Tony Valdez, Fox 11 News.

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