Anniversary surgeon general report edited by USC global health director examines 50 years of tobacco use

USC Institute for Global Health Director Jonathan Samet served as the senior scientific editor of the 50th anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, which launched at the White House Jan. 17.

The report describes the decades of progress in tobacco control and prevention since the first report in 1964, but also emphasizes smoking’s continuing reign as the leading preventable cause of disease, dis¬ability and death in the United States.

Samet, the Flora L. Thornton Chair of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was also the senior scientific editor of the 1990, 2004 and 2006 surgeon general’s reports. The 50th anniversary, he said, marks a turning point in the smoking epidemic that has plagued the U.S. in the last century.

“Tobacco smoke is a global health catastrophe—but we can still combat it using proven tobacco control strategies and programs,” he said. “This is the time to double our efforts.”

Presenting new data that links tobacco smoking to diseases in nearly every organ of the body, the report notes that smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer and for the first time, women are as likely to die as men from the many diseases caused by smoking.

The White House event featured talks from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, among others. Samet joined HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden on stage for a Q&A.

The report received international media attention, including the following, which quoted Samet:

The report and additional information are available for free online at the links below.