Public Health

On This Day – 12th July

on this day ps

On 12th July 1957, the US government became the first government to publicly link smoking to lung cancer. The Surgeon General, Dr. Leroy Burney, who was an epidemiologist (someone who looks at patterns and causes of various health and disease conditions), issued a report which stated:

It is clear that there is an increasing and consistent body of evidence that excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.’

This was an important statement because of how widespread smoking was at that time, and how much power lobbyists in the tobacco industry held. Unsurprisingly, The Tobacco Industry Research Committee rejected the study and complained about the methodology used.

silhouette of woman smoking cigarette
Photo by Valeriia Miller on

Fast forward 63 years, and according to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills 8 million people per year.

        • 7 million deaths are caused by the direct use of tobacco
        • 1.2 million are caused by second-hand smoke

Globally, smoking is also one of the leading cause of deaths.



  • Currently, there are 1.3 billion smokers in the world
  • 80% of tobacco users worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries
  • It’s estimated that 100 million people died prematurely in the 20th century due to smoking
  • 8 million people died from smoking in 2017, mostly in rich countries
  • Action on Smoking Health estimate that smoking costs £12.6 billion in England due to smoking breaks, days off work and the burden on the health service.

Triangles (1)

WHO – Tobacco

July 12, 1957: Surgeon General links smoking and lung cancer

Our World In Data – Smoking

GOV.UK – Tobacco commissioning support: principles and indicators


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