Dr. Luther L. Terry, 73, who as surgeon general of the United States from 1961 to 1965 was responsible for the historic government report linking cigarette smoking to heart disease and cancer, died of congestive heart failure March 29 at a hospital in Philadelphia.
On Jan. 11, 1964, Dr. Terry and a 10-member jury of experts presented the findings of its study on the hazards of smoking. The findings were compiled in a 387-page "Report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health" that was regarded as sweeping and unyielding.
The panel concluded, after 15 months of deliberation, that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, beyond a scientific doubt, and poses a major risk of heart disease, arteriosclerosis, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The conclusions seemed to confirm the worst fears of all previous researchers.
The panel's study concluded that the smoking problem was a matter of "national concern."
In 1965, at Dr. Terry's urging, Congress required tobacco companies to stamp each pack of cigarettes with a warning that reads "The surgeon general has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health." In 1971, Dr. Terry helped obtain a ban on cigarette ads on radio and television.
In an interview with The Washington Post last year, Dr. Terry recalled his famous report. "The immediate impact was really quite bombastic. It really shook things up for the first time, even though the evidence had been accumulating for quite a few years," he said. He also described the report as "probably having the greatest impact of any government report ever issued."
Headlines speeded news of the report throughout the world, and national antismoking campaigns took heart. Such campaigns led to health warnings being displayed on cigarette packages and advertising products, and they were to change Americans' personal smoking habits and affect national health and agriculture policy. A 1984 government study revealed that while 42 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes in 1964, 33 percent did in 1984. The decline was most marked among men -- down from 52 percent to 38 percent.
A former cigarette and pipe smoker himself, Dr. Terry devoted much of the last two decades of his life to warning Americans about the dangers of smoking. In 1977, he called on the government to make tobacco a prescription drug or to treat it at least "as severely as saccharin." He pointed out that according to the Food and Drug Administration, saccharin may kill 800 persons a year, while cigarette smoking kills 300,000, and that a lifelong smoker's life may be shortened by eight years.
Dr. Terry stepped down as surgeon general to take the job of vice president for medical affairs at the University of Pennsylvania, a post he held until 1971. He taught at the university's medical school until 1982. From 1973 to 1980, he was president of University Associates of Washington, a nonprofit consulting firm. From 1980 to 1983, he was corporate vice president for medical affairs of ARA Services Inc. of Philadelphia. He had been a consultant since that time.
Dr. Terry was a cardiologist and authority on hypertension. His many awards included the distinguished service award of the American College of Cardiology and the distinguished service medal of the U.S. Public Health Service.
Dr. Terry, who lived in Philadelphia, was a native of Red Level, Ala. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., and his medical doctorate at Tulane University in 1935. He served in the Public Health Service during World War II, then taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Texas at Galveston before joining the faculty and staff at Johns Hopkins University in the mid-1940s. He also served as medical services chief of the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Baltimore from the early 1940s to the early 1950s.
In 1950, he was named chief of the general medicine and experimental therapeutics branch of the National Heart Institute, becoming assistant director of the institute in 1958. He was named surgeon general, overseeing a staff of 19,000 with a budget of over $1 billion, in 1961.
Survivors include his wife, Janet Reynolds Terry, and a daughter, Janet Kollock, both of Philadelphia; two sons, Michael, of Old Greenwich, Conn., and Luther L. Jr., of Singapore; a brother, Durham, and a sister, Elizabeth T. White, both of Alabama, and three grandchildren.