This Day In Market History: Surgeon General First Warns Of Smoking Hazard

By Elizabeth Balboa

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that happened on this date.

What Happened: On Jan. 11, 1964, the U.S. government issued its first health warning against cigarettes.

Where Was The Market: The S&P 500 traded around 76.45, and the Dow traded near 766.08.

What Else Was Going On In The World: A pack of cigarettes costs about $1.60, or 1.4 hours of labor for minimum wage ($1.15) workers.

The First Onslaught: The Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service published the first of many advisories on the potential hazards of smoking. A scientific literature review revealed causality between cigarettes and chronic bronchitis, lung and laryngeal cancer in men, and lung cancer in women.

The report sparked yet-ongoing government intervention in the American tobacco industry. Over the course of the next few years, Congress adopted the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969 to regulate the tobacco industry’s promotional strategies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim the efforts catalyzed a sharp decline in smokers. As of 2014, the U.S. smoking population had fallen from 60% to below 20% of Americans, according to CBS.

“The antismoking campaign is a major public health success with few parallels in the history of public health,” the CDC wrote on its website.

The agency continues to expand its intervention methods much to the detriment of the tobacco industry. A 2017 nicotine crackdown prompted a sharp selloff in cigarette stocks.

Photo: Lindsay Fox, Flickr


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