Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Report of the Surgeon General “The Health Consequences of Smoking–50 Years of Progress

The Surgeon General’s reports have focused the nation's attention on important public health issues such as the adverse health consequences of smoking. The reports have triggered have heightened America's awareness of important public health issues and generated nationwide public health initiatives prevent tobacco use and have heightened. Fifty years after the release of the first landmark Surgeon General Report on “Smoking and Health” release in 1964, American’s collective view of smoking has been transformed resulting in the steady decline in smoking rates for Americans to this year’s all-time low. Cygnus has provided scientific publishing and knowledge translation services for the CDC for over twenty years. Cygnus has produced the last 7 Surgeon General’s Reports on smoking and health, including this most recent edition, the 50th Anniversary Report published in January 2014.  

Over the past decades, the qualifications and expertise displayed by Cygnus in the execution of the CDC work for the Surgeon General has been essential to the Report’s successful execution and promotion as the most “trusted source” for authoritative health information on smoking and health. In order to ensure timely, accurate, and authoritative information, each of these reports has required a remarkable level of scientific subject matter expertise and writing capabilities, exceptional quality control, and reliable management. Our contract has been renewed numerous times based on Cygnus’s consistent high level of performance, our cooperative and capable staff, a commitment to customer satisfaction, an adherence to contract schedule and budget, and our superior standards of quality control.


There were six phases involved in producing the 2014 50th Anniversary SGR. The first involved selecting a Senior Scientific Editor (SSE) and authors and having a first draft prepared. Phases two through six involved successive rounds of preparing and sending the report out for review and clearance, carefully editing and making the changes requested by the CDC Task Order COTR (TOC) and SSE, preparing front- and back-matter elements, and preparing the final report for printing then converting it to a Section 508-compliant document for posting on CDC’s and the Surgeon General’s Web sites. In addition, starting in phase 5, the executive summary was also prepared, edited, and reviewed.

Completing the six phases involved the successful completion of many tasks, including: meeting and conference call coordination and facilitation, effective and timely e-mail communication, facilitation of the submission and review and clearance of manuscripts, conversion of manuscripts into appropriate formats, incorporating editorial and author changes, creating tables, literature searches, document delivery, verification of references, and copyediting and indexing of the text.

Under our subcontract to American Institutes for Research (AIR), Cygnus provided the following knowledge translation services:

  • Verified more than 1,000 references requiring online and offline source searches of health and tobacco literature;
  • Proofread all drafts and final documents
  • Edited author drafts for consistency and SGR style and consistency;
  • Edited and formatted tables, graphics, charts and figures which included Section 508 compliance;
  • Prepared scientific illustrations and graphic representations;
  • Prepared desktop publishing of the Report
  • Coordinated levels of review and OMP clearance to the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  • Integrated and edited comments from reviewers at each of five levels of review; and
  • Provided high level scientific and biochemical subject matter review and support in identifying and drawing chemical structures.


The report’s release scheduled on the exact day of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health presented significant challenges to the project team. These challenges were intensified by the 2014 government shutdown and CDC/HHS Clearance comments requiring extensive revisions to the report are a few factors that Cygnus overcame to provide services on schedule. In order to respond to peak demand times, Cygnus used a staff cross-trained in several publications functions (i.e. reference verification, layout, etc.). This offered the team the flexibility to increase task capacity within a short period of time as needed.

Cygnus provided high level scientific subject matter expertise for various project tasks. For instance, due to the highly technical nature of the Surgeon General’s document, our Senior Chemist, Dr. Yao-Ren Dai, reviewed a number of chapters to ensure the correct usage of terms, genes, and proteins as part of the editing process. 

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