A History of U.S. Surgeon General Warnings: Smoking, TV, Safer Sex and More

A warning issued by the United States surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, on Tuesday provided guidance about an issue that has been front of mind for American parents for years: the negative effects of social media on the mental health of young people.

These types of public health advisories are infrequent, but sometimes become turning points in American life.


It took a surgeon general’s report in 1964 and decades of effort that followed for smoking in America to go from being seen as a glamorous habit to one with deadly consequences.

The annual per capita cigarette consumption in the United States had increased from 54 cigarettes in 1900 to more than 4,000 cigarettes in 1963 when the first research suggested links between smoking and cancer.

That prompted Dr. Luther L. Terry, the surgeon general under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, to issue a landmark report on the health hazards and consequences of smoking in 1964.

Dr. Terry described the crisis as a…

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This article was written by Remy Tumin and originally published on www.nytimes.com