A New Era for Cigarettes

For a majority of the 20th century, cigarettes and tobacco products have been a key staple of the American consumption landscape. The early decades of the century were characterized by the glorification of smoking, and an overwhelming presence of cigarette ads – which were instrumental in establishing smoking as “the norm for both men and women in the United States.”[1] Through trading cards and extensive advertisements on a variety of media platforms, cigarettes were once marketed as essential American consumption items. However, this trend has since dramatically changed, as demonstrated by the recent shift towards enlightening consumers about the dangers of cigarette use. Though cigarettes are still widely available in convenience stores, gas stations, and supermarkets around the country, evolving attitudes, irrefutable medical research, and increased government regulation have significantly diminished the presence of smoking in America.

A deeper look into the history of cigarette advertising and the American tobacco industry provides an essential glimpse into the story behind one of the “most heavily marketed consumer products,”[2] and their role as the “single most preventable cause of death in the United States.”[3]

In the place of advertisements in which physicians formerly advocated for specific cigarette brands, our televisions are now dominated by cautionary commercials, such as the ones found below (sponsored by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

[1] Gardner, Martha N., and Allan M. Brandt. “”The Doctor’s Choice Is America’s Choice”: The Physician in US Cigarette Advertisements, 1930-1953.” American Journal of Public Health 96.2 (2006): 222-32. Web.

[2] “Tobacco Industry Marketing.” American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts-figures/tobacco-industry-marketing.html>.

[3] Nimbarte, Ashish, Fereydoun Aghazadeh, and Craig Harvey. “Comparison of Current U.S. and Canadian Cigarette Pack Warnings.” International Quarterly of Community Health Education 24 (2005): 3-27. Web.

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