Dr. Luther Terry

Thursday, August 20, 1964

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Dr. Terry, Surgeon General, is supposed to talk about a trip to the Soviet Union and public health there, but the question and answer session tends more towards smoking prevention and health risks instead.

Jim Sheldon introduces Dr. Terry. Before the talk, there is a light-hearted reference to the number of smokers in the room, including the doctor himself, and perhaps the he would like to talk about that issue?

After a brief talk, a question and answer period. Any comments on cigarette buying skyrocketing since the new report was published? "Skyrocketing" isn't quite accurate; it's disappointing nonetheless. The problem of smoking cigarettes is not going to be conquered by converting smokers; it's going to depend on success of appealing to the youth. Concern about the printing of a warning on packaging? Disappointed in the lack of support from Congress on this. President's proposal for an amendment to increase educational campaign was defeated in Congress. Informational educational approaches are more effective than regulation and laws. How effective would labeling even be?

What are the Soviets doing on this same matter? He's not aware of anything being done by them.

Comment on the report by the Tobacco Institute? In complete contrast to all of the scientific reports which have been issued in this country and abroad.

Effects of air pollution on public health? This issue is not being ignored by public health efforts. Clean Air Act, air sampling network stations, research on type and nature of air pollution on people. Committee clearly indicated that it studied all research in relation to air pollution and still felt that lung cancer is principally caused by smoking.

In Soviet Union, any marked contrasts to US practice? No. Different approaches, but relative similarity of problems and approaches.

Major problems facing the Soviet Union in the field of urban health? Similar to the US. Population expansion, growth of cities, urban health facilities, sewage disposal.

Are detergents used in the Soviet Union? Yes. Sources of pollution are the same as ours. Lack of automobiles reduces air pollution, sure.

Value of the scientific exchange program between the US and Soviet Union? (the speaker has changed)

Foreign aid from the Soviet Union? It was not inquired in to. Well known that there is a great deal of support in the field of health to many less well developed countries from the Soviet Union. Significant proportion of health personnel is sent to work in other countries.

Free medical care companies contribute to the solution of the USSR health problem? There is no free medical care: there are many ways of paying for it. No more successful system than that of the US.

Appropriations for national cancer institute, leukemia? Certain types of cancers may be caused by viruses. Isolation of viruses in patients with cancer.

Where was the leukemia virus isolated? He doesn't know. There were 20 - 30 laboratories.

Pollution control methods in the USSR? (Mr. Pond answers)

Host invites Dr. Terry to fill the last two minutes, but this audio is not available here.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70388
Municipal archives id: T548

Hosted by:

Jim Sheldon


Luther L. Terry


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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.


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