Reagan SG C. Everett Koop Dies
C. Everett Koop, the Reagan administration’s Surgeon General, has passed away at the age of 96. Arguably the most influential SG in the history of this country, Koop is widely credited with providing the collective legislative impetus to toughen standards on smoking cessation and second-hand smoking. Initially, liberals opposed his nomination — but they came to lionize Koop as being a visionary and promoting progressive ideals related to wellness and personal responsibility with respect to healthcare delivery in this country.
Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as surgeon general a decade ago under President George W. Bush, said Koop was a mentor to him and preached the importance of staying true to the science even if it made politicians uncomfortable.
“He set the bar high for all who followed in his footsteps,” Carmona said.
Although the surgeon general has no real authority to set government policy, Koop described himself as “the health conscience of the country” and said modestly just before leaving his post that “my only influence was through moral suasion.”
Koop was adept in keeping his personal political views outside of a position in which those views could influence policy. It was no secret that he held strong views opposing gay rights/homosexuality in general and abortion; but, he recognized the importance serving as the nation’s physician-in-chief and effectively used it to educate, inform, and transform the position of SG in ways that have become almost routine since. When Koop took office, a third of Americans smoked; when he left, the percentage had dropped to a quarter. Antismoking advocacy had exploded in this country, with the passage of hundreds of ordinances passed nationwide. Koop also was invested in AIDS education, picking up where his president (Reagan) showed a major deficit — influencing public policy that led to expanded research and the development of novel drugs that are credited with revolutionizing its treatment. | LINK