When the press conference was over, the reporters ran madly to the telephones. In 1964, in a country where over 50% of adult males smoked, a multi-billion dollar industry seemed to hang by the book's astounding verdict: smoking causes cancer.
Cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.
At the time, 46% of all Americans smoked; smoking was accepted in offices, airplanes and elevators, and TV programs were sponsored by cigarette brands.
Within 3 months of Terry's report, cigarette consumption had dropped 20%, but, as was the pattern in England following the Royal Physicians' Report, was soon to climb back with a vengeance.
"It was a very dramatic and courageous thing to do," said Joseph Califano, the top domestic policy aide to then-President Johnson.
But the Johnson Administration had enough wars--domestic and foreign--to fight. The Administration didn't want to pull its resources from poverty and civil rights to undertake action which would undoubtedly entail severe social, economic and regional disruptions. "We wanted to get schools integrated, the voters' rights act passed, fair housing passed. And all of those things required us to take on the whole phalanx of Southern states," Califano said.
Smoking rates since 1965, from National Health Interview Surveys compiled by the U.S. Office on Smoking and Health.
% US Adult Smokers in: % ALL % Men % Women
1965 42.4 51.9 33.9
1966 42.6 52.5 33.9
1970 37.4 44.1 31.5
1974 37.1 43.1 32.1
1976 36.4 41.9 32.0
1977 36.0 40.9 32.1
1978 34.1 38.1 30.7
1979 33.5 37.5 29.9
1980 33.2 37.6 29.3