American Lung Association Historical Timeline

Celebrating 120 Years of Impact

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The American Lung Association is founded as the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (NASPT), the first voluntary health organization in the U.S. The organization’s focus is controlling tuberculosis (TB).




The NASPT adopts the double-barred “Cross of Lorraine” as its emblem.



The first U.S. Christmas Seal® is created by Emily Bissell, a volunteer from Delaware.




Christmas Seals expands to a national campaign.


The Committee on Research is established to build the financial framework to support medical research.




The association’s name is changed to the National Tuberculosis Association (NTA).



The NTA begins funding lung disease research.





President Franklin Delano Roosevelt joins a long list of public figures and celebrities to endorse Christmas Seals. Others include Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Carol Burnett and many more.

Watch Videos:
Henry Fonda  |  Abbott and Costello with Charles Laughton  |  Bob Hope  |  Mel Brooks  |  Animated 1967  |  Christmas Seals Come to Life (1953)  |  Walter Brennan  |  Gary Cooper

Watch Videos:



Dr. Selman Waksman isolates streptomycin - the first effective drug treatment against tuberculosis.





NTA research grantee Dr. Edith Lincoln discovers that isoniazid prevents serious complications of some types of tuberculosis in children.



The NTA accepts other respiratory diseases as a permanent part of the mission.




Dr. Mary Ellen Avery, an NTA research grantee, helped discover the role surfactant plays in keeping babies’ lungs open, a discovery that has saved millions of babies’ lives.



Board of Directors adopts statement stating cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and is a factor in chronic bronchitis and emphysema.




First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy officially launches the 1961 Christmas Seals Campaign at the White House.



The NTA begins working against the alarming rise in lung diseases due to tobacco use.




The Surgeon General releases the report linking smoking with lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. The NTA stood with him at the public release.



Cigarette ads cease to air on TV and radio on Jan 2, 1971, which the Lung Association worked and advocated for.





The organization changes its name to the American Lung Association to better reflect efforts to fight a variety of threats to lung health.





U.S. Postage stamp recognizes Emily Bissell and the Christmas Seals campaign for their role in controlling TB in America.



Freedom from Smoking® launches nationwide and quickly becomes America’s gold standard in smoking cessation programs.




Trek Across Maine three-day bike trek was launched, the organization’s largest fundraising event.



The first Fight For Air Climb took place at Oakbrook Terrace in Chicago, Illinois.




Dr. Michael Iannuzzi, a Lung Association research grantee, helped discover the cystic fibrosis gene, an often-fatal lung disease that affects more than 30,000 in the U.S.



The Lung Association plays a key role in the adoption of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the first air pollution law passed in more than 10 years.


Smoking was prohibited on all domestic airline flights after years of lobbying by the American Lung Association.




Open Airways for Schools launched, the first of many asthma-friendly schools initiatives.



With strong leadership from the American Lung Association, California becomes the first state to pass a law eliminating smoking in public places and workplaces.



The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is reached between 46 states and the four largest tobacco companies, which helped create state tobacco control programs and fund smoking cessation work that the Lung Association has been involved in for more than 20 years.

The American Lung Association leads a coalition to deny the tobacco industry immunity from civil lawsuits.



The Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNGUSA1-800-LUNGUSA) is created, offering a free resource where the public can speak to registered nurses, respiratory therapists, certified tobacco treatment specialists and counselors.





The American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) network is launched to undertake patient-centered research focused on asthma.


The first annual American Lung Association “State of the Air” report is issued.



The Lung Association and allies won a landmark victory when the Supreme Court ruled that protecting public health was the sole basis for national air quality standards.


Not On Tobacco®(N-O-T) launches nationwide and quickly becomes America’s most widely used teen cessation program.

The first completed study by the ACRC proves the flu shot is safe for people with asthma. Based on these findings, flu shots are now recommended for those with asthma by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.




The first annual American Lung Association “State of Tobacco Control Report” is released.



The Lung Association successfully advocates for EPA to clean up heavy duty diesel equipment and engines by 90 percent in 2007.

The American Lung Association launches the Lung Cancer Discovery Award, providing research funding to investigators seeking to develop novel medical treatments or a cure for lung cancer.

The American Lung Association celebrates its centennial.




A federal court judge finds the major tobacco companies guilty on civil racketeering charge. The Lung Association is a Plaintiff-Intervenor in the lawsuit.



Nationwide campaign “Faces of Influenza” launches to promote flu vaccination.




Dr. Alan Fields, a Lung Association grantee at Mayo Clinic Florida, identified a major oncogene that may cause the development of lung cancer, and also found that a drug approved to treat arthritis may function in inhibiting the growth of tumor cells.



Congress passed the Tobacco Control Act granting FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products after a two decades long fight by the American Lung Association and partners.





The Lung Association launches a series of reports examining lung health disparities amongst different groups. These reports raise the national discussion on issues like lung cancer in Black individuals and asthma in the Hispanic or Latino community.

Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, extending quality and affordable healthcare to millions of Americans.


The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk, extending no-cost coverage of screening to millions of people.




LUNG FORCE initiative launched to unite Americans against lung cancer and for lung health.


First LUNG FORCE Turquoise Takeover turns landmarks turquoise for lung cancer awareness.

CVS Health supports our LUNG FORCE initiative with an in-store fundraising campaign and corporate participation in our events. This partnership continued for 7 years.



The Asthma Clinical Research Centers are renamed the Airways Clinical Research Centers and now includes COPD as a focus of study.


Lung Association leads the development of the National Radon Action Plan. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

EPA adopts the first new standards for wood burning devices in 25 years, thanks to legal action taken by the Lung Association.




First LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day brings LUNG FORCE Heroes from all 50 states to Washington D.C. to advocate for lung cancer research at the National Institutes of Health.

The American Lung Association partnered with Stand Up to Cancer and the LUNGevity Foundation to co-fund the Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team.

The Smithsonian Institute honors the American Lung Association with a new exhibit “The History of Christmas Seals.”



The American Lung Association in partnership with the Ad Council launched a first-of-its-kind campaign, Saved By The Scan, to urge eligible Americans to get screened for lung cancer. [Watch Video]


First American Lung Association “State of Lung Cancer” report released.


The American Lung Association merged from 9 separate 501c3s into one unified, nationwide organization.




In partnership with the Ad Council, the American Lung Association launched the Talk About Vaping campaign to help parents talk with their kids about the dangers of vaping. [Watch Video]


The American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort launches the first longitudinal study of millennial lung health awarded by NIH.



The American Lung Association rolls out a brand refresh establishing its role as trusted champion of lung health, with a new color palette, logo and brand voice.


American Lung Association launches COVID-19 Action Initiative to end COVID-19 and defend against future respiratory virus pandemics and plays key role in promoting COVID-19 health measures and urges all Americans to get vaccinated.


Queen Latifah hosts star-studded #Act4Impact benefit to support COVID-19 Action Initiative.


The American Lung Association commits to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) with the formation of a DEI Council and hiring first Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2022.




The American Lung Association Road to Clean Air report released, highlighting the positive health impacts of a broad move to electric vehicles.


Lungcast podcast launched, an online series for healthcare professionals, hosted by our chief medical officer, Albert Rizzo, M.D.



FDA proposes important rules long called for by the Lung Association to remove menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars from the market.

California approves a historic rule to require 100% of new cars sold be zero-emission by 2035; other states follow suit.




The Patient and Caregiver Network launches to expand our reach to the 34 million Americans living with lung disease.


The American Lung Association Research Institute is created to increase investments in lung disease research, empower promising scientists and accelerate discovery and innovation.


Saved By The Scan campaign reaches 1,000,000 quiz completions, saving lives through early detection of lung cancer.



The American Lung Association celebrates its 120th anniversary.


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