Smoking tied to cancer: Jan. 11, 1964

Although a committee of British doctors and scientists had linked smoking and cancer two years earlier, the report issued on this morning by an advisory committee working with U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry is expected to have huge repercussions. That’s why aides to President Lyndon Johnson have asked that the release of the document be moved to a Saturday—they’re that  nervous about the impact it will have on the stock market.

The first two copies of the 387-page report, wrapped in brown paper, are delivered to the White House early in the morning.  Then a few hours later, reporters begin gathering in a Washington auditorium.  After they’re locked in and denied access to phones, the journalists are handed the report and given 90 minutes to read it, after which they’re able to ask Terry questions. He reiterates the conclusions that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer in men and a probable cause in women.

In early February, the American Medical Association accepts a $10 million grant to do research for six cigarette companies and less than a month later, writes a letter to the Federal Trade Commission objecting to the labeling of cigarettes as health hazards. Nevertheless, within a year Congress passes a law requiring warning labels on cigarette packs, and in 1970 cigarette advertising is banned from TV.