The US surgeon general released one of the strongest condemnations of cigarette smoking issued by the government since it ordered warning labels put on cigarette packs in 1964.
Cigarette smoking is ''the most important public-health issue of our time,'' said Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
The report said about one-third of American adults now smoke regularly, compared with 42 percent in 1965. Recent research shows that up to 50 percent of those who quit smoking on their own will stay off cigarettes, it said.
Congress is considering legislation to strengthen the warning on cigarette wrappers, but members from tobacco growing states threaten stiff opposition.
The Carter administration launched a major campaign to reduce smoking, but President Reagan has not continued the program.