Our History

For over 100 years, the American Lung Association has led the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air. Today, our fight is more important than ever.

Now in our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives, improve lung health and prevent lung disease. The American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy.

Beginning the Fight

We're America's oldest voluntary health organization, founded in 1904 as the  National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis– dedicated to combating tuberculosis (TB), the most dreaded disease of the time.

Over a difficult 50-year fight, we played a critical role in developing and funding increasingly effective weapons to prevent, detect and treat the disease. By 1954, tuberculosis was largely controlled in the U.S.

Christmas Seals®

In 1907 we launched the Christmas Seals® Campaign that has become an enduring symbol of the power of volunteers to fight illness. Emily Bissell created the first Christmas Seals in 1907 to raise money for a small TB sanatorium, and led the growing effort for many years. In 1980, Bissell herself was honored with a U.S. postage stamp that hailed her as a public health pioneer.

Expanding the Fight

Over the years, we expanded our fight, targeting other threats to lung health, and taking the new name the American Lung Association, guardian of everyone's right to healthy lungs and clean air. 

The American 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 disease. Landmark victories included The Clean Air Act, banning smoking on airplanes, and passage of the bill which gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over the marketing, sale and manufacturing of tobacco products to stop tobacco companies from preying on children and deceiving the American public.

Continuing the Fight

Today our fight is more important than ever. We're funding research that continues to unlock the secrets of lung diseases, from asthma to lung cancer. Our educational materials give patients the tools to take control of their illness, and our Freedom From Smoking® program is the gold standard for those who want to quit smoking.

The annual State of the Air report is a national benchmark for air quality that spurs communities across the country to take action against pollution. The State of Tobacco Control report is the authoritative scorecard on the ongoing fight against tobacco. And year-round, we're on Capitol Hill, fighting for legislation to keep our air clean and protect our children from predatory tobacco marketing.

Our local Lung Associations across the country are critical partners in health, working at the community, state and regional level to fight for healthy lungs and healthy air right where you live.

And the fight continues. After more than 100 years, the American Lung Association is still fighting for air.

Built on Trust

The American Lung Association is a charity built on trust and transparency, and is a proud holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal.