PERHAPS no public offi­cial was as syn­ony­mous with the anti­smoking move­ment as C. Everett Koop, who died last Monday at age 96. Dr. Koop, who worked tire­lessly to turn America into “a smoke-​​free society,” did not live to see that goal reached. But the rest of us have the power to make it happen.

Fewer than one in five Amer­ican adults smoke, a share that’s plunged by about half since the 1960s — an achieve­ment due, in some mea­sure, to Dr. Koop’s anti­smoking cru­sade as sur­geon gen­eral, from 1981 to 1989. Rev­e­la­tions in the 1990s about tobacco com­pa­nies’ cover-​​up of smoking’s dan­gers also played a role. So have a host of other strate­gies that have included con­sumer taxes, min­imum ages for cig­a­rette pur­chases, restric­tions on smoking in public spaces and pro­grams to help people quit. Con­tin­uing on the same path, with some luck, we might be able reduce the smoking rate a little more.

Read the article at The New York Times →