Now, health officials are taking stock of the progress since then.
Fifty years ago when the report first came out,,, about 42-percent of American adults smoked.
Now that number is about 18-percent.
Many smokers who have quit or tried to quit will tell others:
"My advice is just don't start...someone who's considering smoking should not consider it ever..Don't start..don't start."
When Surgeon General Luther Terry issued his report on January 11, 1964, it was like thunder.
Tobacco companies sponsored many popular television shows, actors and celebrities smoked publicly on screen and in person, and doctors appeared in magazine cigarette ads.
But the report identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer in men, a likely cause of lung cancer in women, and a likely cause of emphysema and bronchitis.
We now know just how dangerous smoking can be, with hundreds of thousands of people dying early each year due to the harmful effects.
A new sruvey for the Journal of American Medical Association shows tobacco control and education efforts over the past 50 years have made a significant difference.
Doctor Theodore Holford from the Yale School of Public Health helped analyze the information.
"Between 17 and 18 million were associated with the use of tobacco, of cigarette smoking. An additional eight million would have died we estimate had this tobacco control not occurred," says Dr. Holford.
So progress is being is made, but more needs to be done to help more people quit or never start smoking.
If you want to stop smoking, here are some resources: