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Ohio State University Marks Anniversary Of Report That Linked Cigarettes To Death

It was 50 years ago that the first Surgeon General report linked smoking to lung cancer and chronic diseases.

Representatives from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and other officials commemorated the 50th anniversary of a Surgeon General report that linked smoking to lung cancer and chronic diseases.

In 1963, 42 percent of Americans smoked - virtually everywhere - airplanes, offices, and restaurants.

But then Surgeon General Luther Terry wrote that smoking cigarettes could kill you.

Today, just 19 percent of adults smoke, and the rate of deaths has dropped dramatically.

The rate is especially impressive among young people.

"Just last month, we learned that smoking among 8th, 9th and 10th graders was below 10 percent," said Robin Koval, President and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. "That is an amazing achievement."

The Ohio State University became a "smoke free" campus this week.

A new American Medical Association report shows that since 1964, eight million people have been spared a premature death because they never smoked, or quit smoking early - and they gained, on average, almost 20 years of life.

However, it isn't all good news.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death.

Nearly a half million Americans die each year due to smoking, and eight million people are living with at least one serious chronic disease caused by tobacco.