American Lung Association Celebrates 120 Years of Impact: A Legacy of Advancing Lung Health and Saving Lives

In the early 1900s, the U.S. faced the scourge of tuberculosis, which killed millions of people across the world. On June 6, 1904, a young doctor named Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau founded the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, which would later be called the American Lung Association. The innovative work of this doctor and organization virtually eliminated tuberculosis in the U.S.

2024 marks the 120th anniversary of the Lung Association. This year, the organization will celebrate 120 years of championing lung health by celebrating the past with a new interactive timeline, continuing work to save lives and announcing new initiatives throughout the year. 

The Lung Association pioneered a groundbreaking model of education, advocacy and research to address critical public health and lung health issues. It was during these early years that Christmas Seals was launched, a volunteer-driven fundraising campaign, to end tuberculosis.

“In 1884, my great-grandfather, Edward L. Trudeau, a co-founder of the American Lung Association, created the country’s first public tuberculosis sanitarium in Saranac Lake, NY. It was founded on his holistic insight, not then fully understood, that if you optimized a patient’s living conditions, the body does a remarkable job of healing itself. Today, thanks to antibiotics, the immune system doesn’t have to carry the load all by itself, but we still need to continue spreading the important message of good lung health. Congratulations to the American Lung Association on 120 years of fighting for air,” said Garry Trudeau, great grandson of the founder of the Lung Association and creator of the Doonesbury comic strip.

Since then, the Lung Association has contributed to significant public health achievements, from drastically reducing the U.S. smoking rate through educational and quit smoking programs, to making domestic airline flights smokefree and funding research that has saved lives around the world. The lifesaving work of the Lung Association is a result of funding research that led to crucial healthcare discoveries, advocating for clean air policies, working to end youth vaping, helping children better manage their asthma and much more.

Today, the Lung Association focuses on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer, create a tobacco-free future, champion clean air for all, and improve the quality of life for those living with lung disease.

“The American Lung Association has an incredible history of being at the forefront of lung health and improving public health across the United States. 2024 will be a year to celebrate our past and use our vast experience to help us save lives by addressing current and future lung health threats like catastrophic wildfires, climate change, vaping, COVID-19, RSV, pneumonia, lung cancer and much more,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the Lung Association. 

The Lung Association’s new historical timeline shows the progress made in the past 120 years and helps celebrate the impact of the Lung Association’s work. This includes the launch of LUNG FORCE aimed at defeating lung cancer, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, work done to address COVID-19 and the launch of the Research Institute to increase investments in lung health research. In 2023, the Lung Association also launched the free Patient & Caregiver Network, which provides individuals with lung disease and their families critical support, education and access to emerging research like clinical trials. The goal is to grow this vital network to more than one million members. 

When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters®. Join the American Lung Association in their journey to champion lung health and help celebrate 120 Years of Impact. View the Lung Association’s new historical timeline here, donate today at Lung.org/donate and purchase custom 120th anniversary gear here

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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