(Adds background on Koop and the position of surgeon general,
Feb 25 Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett
Koop, a pediatric surgeon known for his anti-smoking campaigns
and efforts to improve diet and nutrition, died at his home in
Hanover, New Hampshire, on Monday. He was 96 years old.
Koop served as Surgeon General from November 1981 until
October 1989, taking stern and sometimes controversial stands on
abortion, AIDS, fatty foods, drugs and cigarettes. In the
process, he became one of the most recognizable figures in the
Reagan administration, elevating a formerly obscure government
His death was announced by Dartmouth's Geisel School of
Medicine, where he founded the C. Everett Koop Institute.
The surgeon general, who is the leading U.S. spokesman on
public health matters and a presidential adviser, is the head of
the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Candidates are
nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate.
Koop enraged the powerful tobacco industry with his
insistence that smoking kills and should be banned.
He spearheaded the drive to make education about AIDS the
primary means of preventing the disease, writing a brochure
about AIDS that was distributed to millions of American
"He saved countless lives through his leadership in
confronting the public health crisis that came to be known as
AIDS and standing up to powerful special interests like the
tobacco companies," U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, a
California Democrat, said on Monday.
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Corrie MacLaggan; editing by
Christopher Wilson and Jackie Frank)