U.S. Surgeon General

The 2010 U.S. Surgeon General's Report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease, confirms that even occasional exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful, and that low levels of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke lead to a rapid and sharp increase in dysfunction and inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels, which are implicated in heart attacks and stroke. Learn more about this important report in the Surgeon General's fact sheet.

The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, confirmed that secondhand smoke is a major cause of disease, including lung cancer and coronary heart disease, in healthy nonsmokers.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona declared, "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults. Smokefree indoor environments are proven, simple approaches that prevent exposure and harm."

The report verifies that there are immediate cardiovascular effects from short-term exposure, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and that ventilation cannot eliminate exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke, concluding that eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Read the full 2006 Surgeon General's report, as well as related material and fact sheets. See ANR's media release about the report and watch the Surgeon General's Video, Secondhand Smoke: Triumphs & Tragedies.

In 1986, the Office of the U. S. Surgeon General released a report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking. This landmark report marked the first time any major public health agency determined secondhand smoke to be a cause of death and disease. The report also declared that "the simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same airspace may reduce, but cannot eliminate, nonsmoker exposure to environmental tobacco smoke." This established a solid scientific basis for eliminating smoking sections and creating 100% smokefree indoor places.

In May 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report on The Health Consequences of Smoking. The report expanded the list of diseases caused by smoking to include leukemia, cataracts, pneumonia and cancers of the cervix, kidney, pancreas and stomach. The report revealed for the first time that smoking causes diseases in nearly every organ of the body.

Pictured are Assistant Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu, ANR Executive Director Cynthia Hallett, and Surgeon General Richard Carmona (2006).

On July 10, 2007, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona provided testimony at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that top officials in the Bush administration delayed for years and tried to "water down" last year's landmark Surgeon General's report on the dangers of secondhand smoke. Surgeons General C. Everett Koop and Louis Sullivan also testified about "political interference and the declining status of the office."


Statements Regarding the 2006 Report

New Surgeon General's Report Provides Powerful Boost for Smoke-Free Workplace Laws -- Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Surgeon General's Report on Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Bolsters the Need for Smoke-Free Policies -- Statement of John R. Seffrin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society

New Surgeon General's Report Warns of Dangers of Second Hand Smoke: National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention (LCAT) Emphasizes Disproportionate Impact on Latinos

AMA: Surgeon General's secondhand smoke report a wake-up call to lawmakers

Statement of M. Cass Wheeler CEO, American Heart Association, Responding to the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health

American Legacy Foundation(R) Supports Surgeon General's Assertion: No Safe Level of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke -- A Statement By Dr. Cheryl Healton, President and CEO

Blue Cross Responds to New Surgeon General's Report on Secondhand Smoke -- Statement from Blue Cross VP and Medical Director for Population Health Marc Manley

Lung Cancer Alliance Praises Surgeon General's Report for Highlighting Dangers of Second-Hand Smoke -- Group Calls for More Aggressive Action Supporting Early Detection and Treatment of Lung Cancer

Statement On Release Of U.S. Surgeon General Report On Health Consequences Of Secondhand Smoke By American Lung Association -- Statement by John L. Kirkwood, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Lung Association


Assistant Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu, Bronson Frick (ANR's Associate Director), with Corrine Husten