Fifty years after the release of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health (Jan. 11, 1964), remarkable progress has been made in the anti-smoking movement. But as Alfred Munzer, M.D., Pulmonologist at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park and former president of the American Lung Association, says, “Our work is not done. We still have a long way to go.”

Since 1964, smoking prevalence among U.S. adults has been reduced by half. Unfortunately, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. More than 440,000 Americans die every year from smoking, and eight million Americans live with at least one serious chronic disease from smoking. This costs the U.S economy $193 billion a year in direct medical costs and lost productivity.

“We still have a long way to go. About two to three thousand kids start smoking every day, and that’s really a tragedy.”

Dr. Munzer has been a frequent spokesperson for the American Lung Association since 1974, testifying on their behalf before Congressional Committees and serving as President in the 1990s, his efforts led to the banning of smoking on airlines. Dr. Munzer is also deeply involved in anti-smoking efforts internationally through the World Health Organization and is active in negotiating with individual countries, the implementation of an international treaty on the control of tobacco.

Adventist HealthCare is part of a long history of effort put forth by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to help people stop smoking. In 2013, Washington Adventist Hospital’s inpatient Tobacco Cessation Program was highlighted as a best practice at the 2013 Maryland Million Hearts Symposium.

“Our program strives to keep open and ongoing communication with patients, accommodating their needs to ensure their continued success,” said Julinda Massey, Tobacco Cessation Coordinator at Washington Adventist Hospital, “In addition to our inpatient program, our ongoing tobacco cessation classes and support groups allow us to extend the reach of supporting those who have quit smoking and help those who are going through the process of quitting.”

Adventist HealthCare also promotes smoking cessation through its tobacco free campus policy at all its entities. This policy prohibits smoking and the use of any type of tobacco on hospital campuses and applies to all patients, visitors, employees, contract workers, volunteers, and physicians.

This month, the Surgeon General will release the 50th anniversary Surgeon General’s Report (SGR) on smoking and health. The report will highlight 50 years of progress in tobacco control and prevention, present new data on the health consequences of tobacco use, and detail initiatives that can end the tobacco use epidemic in the U.S.