Our History | American Lung Association

Our History

For more than 110 years, the American Lung Association has been America's leading force for lung health—successfully tapping into America's spirit of community that inspires us to work together for better health and longer life for all.

In 1904 it was a revolutionary concept—a nationwide organization to fight a single disease. Tuberculosis (TB) was the most feared disease in the world, striking down the young and old, the rich and poor.

Determined to battle what was called the "White Plague" (because TB caused a pale pallor in people who suffered from it), a group of doctors and concerned citizens formed the first voluntary health organization in America, the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, later to become the American Lung Association.

Over a difficult 50-year fight, the Association played a critical role in developing and funding increasingly effective weapons to prevent, detect and treat the disease. Along the way, we launched the Christmas Seals® campaign, the first "direct mail" fundraiser that has become an enduring symbol of the power of volunteers to battle disease.

Over the years, we continued the fight, targeting other threats to lung health, and becoming the American Lung Association, guardians of everyone's right to breathe. Still revolutionary, the Lung Association was among the first to tackle smoking as the nation's greatest preventable health risk, and to make the connection between air pollution and lung health. Landmark victories include:

As of July 1, 2017, the American Lung Association united as one nationwide organization. Today the fight is more important than ever. At the American Lung Association, we never take breathing for granted, because millions of Americans fight for each and every breath. By joining us to build a healthier future, you are helping to save lives today and keep America healthy tomorrow.

Last updated July 27, 2017.

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