Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Nation's Doctor Dies

New York Times Photo

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who forever elevated the position of "the nation's doctor," died Monday at age 96. 

Dr. Koop was dedicated to making sure the public received the best scientific information, unfiltered by political and social bias, and absolutely committed to using his position to improve the public health and save lives.  He focused the nation’s attention on the urgent need to tackle tobacco and didn't shy away from straightforward talk on AIDS at a time few public officials were willing to do so.

As Surgeon General, Dr. Koop issued eight reports on the health consequences of tobacco use, including the first report on the dangers of secondhand smoke and a landmark report that found nicotine had addictive qualities similar to heroin or cocaine.  He also supported legislation that included a major change in cigarette warning labels in the U.S.  The legislation introduced rotating warnings that better informed Americans that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, fetal injury and other serious conditions.   Dr.  Koop worked tireless and passionately to protect children from tobacco addiction and encourage smokers to quit.  His legacy is the global battle that continues today to create a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

Dr. Koop truly was “the health conscience of the country,” as he called himself. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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