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National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); 2014.

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The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General.

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Line graph shows that the per capita number of cigarettes smoked per year generally rose from 1900 to the early 1960s. During this time, declines in the number of cigarettes smoked coincide with two events: the Great Depression (from the late 1920s to the early 1930s) and the beginning of evidence linking smoking with cancer (during the early 1950s). Dramatic increases in the number of cigarettes smoked occurred during the years of U.S. involvement in World War II. Per capita annual consumption peaked at approximately 4,400 cigarettes in the early 1960s. After the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health was released in 1964, the per capita number of cigarettes smoked per year fluctuated until the early 1970s, at which point the number generally decreased annually through 2012 (approximately 1,200). Such decreases are credited to ongoing federal government legislation and taxes, reports of evidence-based health consequences from the Surgeon General, broadcasting and advertisement regulations, the availability of over-the-counter nicotine medications, and the fallout of the Master Settlement Agreement.

Figure 2.1Adult* per capita cigarette consumption and major smoking and health events, United States, 1900–2012

* Adults ≥18 years of age as reported annually by the Census Bureau.

Sources: Adapted from Warner 1985 with permission from Massachusetts Medical Society, ©1985; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1989; Creek et al. 1994; U.S. Department of Agriculture 2000; U.S. Census Bureau 2013; U.S. Department of the Treasury 2013.

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