50 Years After Landmark Report on Smoking, Government Warns Of New Medical Dangers

On Friday government officials in Washington, D.C. marked the 50th anniversary of a surgeon general's pivotal report on smoking and health that helped shift American culture away from heavy smoking.

They did so by issuing a new warning – saying smoking is far more dangerous than originally thought.

A report just released by the government lists new and numerous medical conditions linked to cigarette smoking, including liver and colorectal cancer, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.

“I really want to quit, from my heart I really do,” said one smoker at Mary Brickell Village in downtown Miami Friday night.

She only gave her first name of Margaret – but said she is married to a cardiologist and was candid with her thoughts.

“If you could tie me to a bed for however long it takes for me to quit smoking forever, I would do it,” she said.

Smoking is an addiction, Marc Melton said at Mary Brickell Village.

“It’s a hard thing to quit,” he said.

Back in 1964, then-Surgeon General Luther Perry lit into cigarette smoking as dangerous and deadly.

Millions have quit since then. Only about 18 percent of American adults smoke now, compared to more than 42 percent in 1964.

But many more have died prematurely from smoking, including more than 20 million in the last 50 years.

Indeed, the country's acting surgeon general was quite animated Friday when talking about America's addiction to nicotine.

"Today, the annual death toll from smoking is approaching 500,000 per year. Enough is enough!" Dr. Boris Lushniak said.

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