The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 9, 2014

50 years, 8 million lives

NORMAN — The report made public 50 years ago, ironically from a smoke-filled room, linking smoking and disease has saved more than eight million lives, researchers said this week.

It was 50 years ago this month that a U.S. Surgeon General sounded the alarm about the dangers of smoking. Before that, surgeon generals were more concerned about immunization and disease prevention.

The study uses national health surveys and death rates to calculate how many Americans would have died if smoking habits would have continued at the 1964 level.

More than 42 percent of American adults smoked in the early 1960s compared to the current 18 percent. The number is higher in Oklahoma, with the latest report showing 23.3 percent of all adults using some form of tobacco.

That number is down from about 26.1 percent a year earlier. An estimated 630,000 adult Oklahomans still smoke. Heart disease, cancer, lung ailments and stroke — all related to smoking — are the nation’s top four leading causes of death.

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