American Lung Association's Battle Against Tobacco Use Milestones

Date Subject All
  • 2014

    Major parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were implemented as of January 1, including new health insurance options and requirements that most private health plans must cover preventive services, including a comprehensive quit smoking benefit.

  • 2014

    FDA issued proposed regulation giving it authority over all other tobacco products, including cigars, e-cigarettes, hookah, pipe tobacco and other unregulated products.

  • 2014

    U.S. Surgeon General releases a new report entitled "Surgeon General's Report on Smoking & Health 50th Anniversary 1964-2014" that documents the progress that has been made on reducing tobacco use over the past 50 years, and provides an update on the health effects of tobacco use.

  • 2014

    FDA launches its public education campaign, aimed at preventing priority populations including youth from starting to use tobacco products.

  • 2012

    U.S. Surgeon General releases Surgeon General’s report on youth and young adult tobacco use entitled, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General.

  • 2012

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launches the first ever federal government paid media advertising campaign encouraging people to quit smoking, Tips from Former Smokers, which features real people living with diseases caused by smoking.

  • 2012

    North Dakota approves a comprehensive smokefree law by ballot initiative becoming the 28th smokefree state.

  • 2010

    Kansas passes a comprehensive smokefree law, bringing the total of smokefree states to 27 + the District of Columbia, and putting the country over halfway towards accomplishing the Lung Association's Smokefree Air Challenge.

  • 2010

    President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. The law includes important provisions that will expand tobacco cessation benefits and establishes the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides funds to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

  • 2010

    Youth access and marketing restrictions on tobacco products take effect and cigarette companies are prohibited from using "light", "low" and other misleading health descriptors.

  • 2010

    Youth access and marketing restrictions on tobacco products take effect and cigarette companies are prohibited from using "light", "low" and other misleading health descriptors.

  • 2010

    U.S. Surgeon General releases 30th Surgeon General's report on tobacco entitled, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease.

  • 2009

    President Obama signs legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over tobacco products. Tobacco products are now no longer exempt from basic oversight.

  • 2008

    The American Lung Association launches its State Tobacco Cessation Coverage Database, which tracks what each state covers to help smokers quit. This database, available at www.lung.org/cessationcoverage is the only comprehensive, up-to-date source for information on coverage of cessation treatments for Medicaid recipients, state employees, and laws requiring private health insurance plans to cover quit smoking treatments.

  • 2008

    The U.S. Public Health Service releases an important update to its Guideline on Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. This guideline contains recommendations for doctors on how to help their patients quit using tobacco, and recommends the use of 7 medications and 3 types of counseling to help people quit.

  • 2007

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates the Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs refining the evidence-based recommendations effective tobacco control programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

  • 2006

    Judge Kessler releases her final ruling in the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal suit against the tobacco companies. She finds that the tobacco industry had lied for 50 years and deceived the American public on health issues and marketing to children.

  • 2006

    The American Lung Association launched its Smokefree Air Challenge, urging all states and the District of Columbia to pass comprehensive smokefree laws that protect people and workers from secondhand smoke.

  • 2006

    The Surgeon General releases The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. The report said unequivocally that the "debate is over" – secondhand smoke in any form at any level is harmful to health.

  • 2005

    After over a year of court proceedings in the U.S. Department of Justice’s suit against the tobacco companies, the Department announced that it was reducing the amount of remedies it was seeking in the case by billions of dollars. Six major public health groups, including the American Lung Association, intervene in the lawsuit to advocate for stricter remedies to preclude future tobacco industry wrongdoings.

  • 2004

    The United States signs the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty, which is the world’s first tobacco control treaty and establishes international guidelines for countries to implment and control tobacco use and addiction. The treaty has not yet been sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

  • 2002

    The American Lung Association releases the first edition of the State of Tobacco Control report. This report, available at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org, tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and later the federal level and assigns grades to state laws and regulations. It is released annually in January.

  • 2002

    The result of advocacy work led by the American Lung Association, Delaware’s statewide smokefree law goes into effect. Delaware was the first state in four years to pass a smokefree law, and this event was the catalyst for many other states to go smokefree in the 2000’s.

  • 2000

    The U.S. Supreme Court rules in a 5-4 decision that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could not assert authority over tobacco products without being given the power to do so by Congress. Efforts turn to Congress to pass legislation.

  • 1999

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases the first edition of Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs. This document details how state tobacco control programs should be structured to best prevent smoking and help smokers quit. It also recommends minimum funding levels at which each state can best run these programs.

  • 1999

    The U.S. Department of Justice announces it is suing the tobacco industry under the RICO statute – the same statute used to prosecute the Mob – claiming the tobacco industry engaged in a “coordinated campaign of fraud and deceit.”

  • 1998

    Attorneys General from 46 states and the tobacco industry reach the landmark Master Settlement Agreement to reimburse state government for tobacco-related health care costs. The billions of dollars were supposed to be used to prevent smoking and help people quit, unfortunately states have used the majority of this money for other, unrelated purposes.

  • 1998

    California becomes the first state in the nation to eliminate smoking in bars. This law, along with the law eliminating smoking in restaurants and most other public places, makes California the first state to pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree air law. The American Lung Association was one of the organizations leading the campaign for this law.

  • 1996

    American Lung Association assumes responsibility for publishing State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues. This record is still maintained and updated, and is available at http://slati.lungusa.org.

  • 1995

    In response to a letter from the American Lung Association and its public health partners, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asserts jurisdiction over tobacco products by declaring nicotine a drug. President Clinton approves this proposal in 1996, giving the agency authority to regulate cigarettes as a “drug delivery device.”

  • 1994

    Seven tobacco company executives testify before Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) congressional committee that they do not believe nicotine is addictive.

  • 1993

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders. The report concludes that secondhand smoke is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults and impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of children.

  • 1990

    San Luis Obispo, California becomes the first city in the world to eliminate smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants.

  • 1989

    A bill spearheaded by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Dick Durbin (D-IL) passed Congress banning smoking on all domestic airlines. The American Lung Association was one of the public health groups leading efforts to pass this law.

  • 1988

    Tobacco Free America (American Lung Association, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society) publish State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues. This document tracked tobacco control policies – like tobacco taxes, smokefree air laws, and tobacco control program funding – for every state.

  • 1988

    California voters approve Proposition 99, which increased the cigarette tax by 25 cents and dedicated some of the revenue to create the first comprehensive statewide tobacco control program in California. It was also the first time a state dedicated proceeds from tobacco taxes to help prevent and stop smoking. The American Lung Association was instrumental in the passage of this proposition, and subsequent support for the California Tobacco Control Program.

  • 1987

    The RJ Reynolds tobacco company debuts the Joe Camel character in its U.S. advertisements. This cartoon character hooked millions of kids on Camel tobacco products.

  • 1987

    Aspen, Colorado becomes the first city in the United States to require smokefree restaurants.

  • 1987

    Congress prohibits smoking on domestic flights of less than two hours. Takes effect in 1988.

  • 1986

    The 19th Surgeon General’s report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking is published. This report first officially acknowledged and emphasized the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

  • 1984

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves nicotine gum as the first drug designed to help people quit smoking.

  • 1975

    The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act goes into effect. This is the first statewide law in the nation that requires separate smoking areas in public places.

  • 1968

    Philip Morris introduces the Virginia Slims brand. With its iconic “You’ve come a long way baby” ad campaign targeting women.

  • 1966

    Health warnings first appear on cigarette packs in response to congressional legislation. The warnings read, “Caution—cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.”

  • 1964

    The first Surgeon General’s report on smoking is published. Called Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, this report recognized the proven link between smoking and lung cancer.

  • 1961

    The American Lung Association, along with its public health partners, write to President Kennedy, highlighting the increasing evidence of the health hazards of smoking and urging him to establish a commission to address the problem. This letter led to the publishing of the landmark Surgeon General’s report in 1964.

  • 1954

    Richard Doll and A. Bradford Hill, publish an article in the British Medical Journal that confirms the link between smoking and lung cancer.


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