By Jody Brumage
Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act in 1970, banning the advertising of cigarettes and tobacco products on television and radio. The bill, signed into law by President Richard Nixon on April 1, 1970, was the product of over five years of efforts to curb the public health crisis posed by smoking as well as a continual power struggle between an executive agency, the Federal Communications Commission [FCC], and Congress over which branch had the authority to impose such a ban on cigarette advertising.
In 1964, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry published Smoking and Health, formally acknowledging research conducted over the past decade proving a correlation between smoking and lung cancer as well as other respiratory diseases. The report prompted the FCC to announce in the summer of 1964 that it would require tobacco companies to display a warning of the consequences of smoking on its products and eventually in its advertising. Following a massive lobbying effort from the tobacco industry, Congress took up the issue in an effort to impose its authority.
Throughout his career, Senator Byrd urged his constituents and all Americans to learn about the history of the United States. Believing that an informed electorate was essential to the continuance of representative democracy, Senator Byrd encouraged programs such as "Teaching American History" and Constitution Day which provided funding and annual observances on which to reflect on the evolution of our country. Senator Byrd also wrote extensively on the history of the United States, both in his published books and in his weekly newspaper column.
Beginning in his first term in the United States Senate, Senator Byrd wrote a weekly column entitled Byrd's-Eye View. Printed in newspapers across West Virginia, the column became one of the most direct methods of communicating between Senator Byrd and his constituents. While many of the columns offer his perspective on significant legislative efforts or updates on projects around the state, Senator Byrd occasionally used the column to speak on a broader level. As our national celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, we are sharing some of those Byrd's-Eye View columns in which Senator Byrd reflected on the legacy this momentous occasion.
Senator Byrd delivers a speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in July 1987 during the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. On the rostrum behind him are (left to right) Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, Speaker of the House Jim Wright, and House Majority Whip Tony Coelho.
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