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The 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

  • In 1941, Drs. Alton Ochsner and Michael DeBakey published their observations on the relationship between smoking and lung cancer (Archives of Surgery, volume 42, pages 209-258). For many years, they and the handful of outspoken physician opponents of cigarettes were met with indifference or ridicule within the medical profession, doubtless in part due to the fact that well into the 1950s more than two-thirds of doctors smoked.
  • In 1964, SMOKING and HEALTH: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service reviewed the medical literature and summarized the devastating scientific case against smoking. The Surgeon General’s Report, as it became popularly known, concluded that cigarette smoking was the major cause of lung cancer in men and was causally related to laryngeal and oral cancer.

Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health (14:19)

Video clip of press conference given by U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry, MD, to announce the findings of the Report on Smoking and Health, which concluded that cigarette smoking was the main cause of lung cancer
January 11, 1964

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1965 The Great Cigarette Mystery

“The Great Cigarette Mystery: Old-Time Melodrama”

Draper Hill
The Worcester Evening Gazette (Massachusetts)
January 15, 1964

“From the very beginning, I had a sense that if I played my cards right, smoking could be a money-making proposition.  While waiting on line at Colonial Williamsburg with a fellow sophomore of my high school class to watch the instruments of torture and punishment, he bet $5 that I couldn’t smoke a cigarette all the way to the end.  I did, and that was the end of smoking for me.  I collected the $5, which in terms of the odds, risks, and expenditures, was a pretty good career move.”

–Draper Hill (1935-2009; Editorial cartoonist of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts) and Worcester Evening Gazette (Massachusetts), 1958-1964; The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), 1971-1976; and The Detroit News, 1976-1999)

1994 01 13 Milt Prigee Happy Anniversary Stupid

“Happy 30th anniversary, stupid.”

Milt Priggee
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington)
January 13, 1994

(Milt Priggee was the editorial cartoonist at the Spokane Spokesman-Review from 1987 to 2000 when his position was eliminated. His cartoons are syndicated by CagleCartoons and are on view at Priggee’s firing, which left a single editorial cartoonist at a daily newspaper in the state of Washington, David Horsey of the Seattle Times, is emblematic of the loss of the major influence wielded by newspapers…and their editorial cartoonists–as recounted in this essay by Paul Lindholdt on

n.d. Newsday Darcy Warning Label


Tom Darcy (1932-2000)
June 27, 1983

(Darcy was the editorial cartoonist at Newsday from 1969 to 1997.)

1964 Herblock Cartoon Coffin Cig Box

“Cigaret Box”

Herb Block
The Washington Post
January 1964

1984 05 27 Englehart The Hartford Courant Scum of the Earth


Bob Englehart
Hartford Courant
May 27, 1984

(Bob Englehart was the editorial cartoonist of the Hartford Courant from 1980 to 2015, when the position was eliminated; his recent cartoons are on view at

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