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Anas Mateus
CAS 137H
Professor Lori Bedell
November 1, 2015

From Sexy to Scary: The Demise of Smoking Culture

Smoking is no longer cool. How often are you in a situation where someone is huffing
and puffing away and you try to move away quickly because you didn't want to inhale
secondhand smoke? Gross, right? Nowadays, smoking is often perceived as just that, it is also
expensive, and a leading cause to multiple health issues they don't call them cancer sticks
for nothing. In recent times, there have been countless bans and ads against smoking.
Considering that smoking was a big part of American culture throughout the 20th century what
got us to this point? What caused our views to change? Since the early 20th century, Smoking
culture has been drastically altered mainly due to influence from the mass media, medical
discoveries, and the plethora of advertisements run by anti-smoking and health organizations.
Smoking is cool well at least it was perceived to be in the early 20th century. Cigarette
smoking was glorified by the American public, and as often seen as the cool or it thing to do.
This ideal dates back to the World War I and World War II, which saw the rising popularity of
cigarettes among soldiers. Cigarettes were heavily included in Army rations as they were often
seen as, a method to combat the stress and discomfort of workfare, or in this case warfare. This
caused thousands of men to become hooked, and solidified an economic and cultural role in
American society. By the 1920s, cigarettes smoking was rampant in American culture, and the
tobacco industrys main targeted were women. Surprisingly enough, cigarettes exemplified a

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new, modern woman due to the radical actions taken by women amidst the Womens Rights
Movement. During this time as one report states, Cigarettes were advertised to women as a sign
of modern sophistication, and the 1920s flapper is usually pictured with a cigarette in her
hand. As a result, the tobacco industry began to take advantage and run ads to promote their
products to the American public. For example, one of the most successful tobacco companies,
Lucky Strikes, ran an ad with the famous phrase, To keep a slender figure no one can deny,
reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet. This
association between smoking and a slim figure to
women led to a 300% increase in tobacco sales
during the early 1920s.
Other tobacco companies began to copy
Lucky Strikes approach, and by the 1950s, movie
icons such as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn
made smoking seem sexy and sophisticated. This
more than often appealed to American public as
they saw it as an exclusive activity. Smoking was
only available to the elite class, and people
wanted to be a part of it.Tobacco companies
ended this stigma as they sought to make more
profit and efforts to mass-produce tobacco products and aggressively market them.
Since cigarettes were now cheap and easily accessible, teens during this time flocked to
them. They saw it as the grown up thing to do, and it wasn't illegal it was often a form of
peer pressure and just a way to act out against their parents. Moving forward, smoking became

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an integral part of American culture. Cigarette smoking ultimately reached its peak in the 1950s,
as the CDC reported tobacco consumption was at about 13 pounds per person annually, and the
average American smoked 4,345 cigarettes per year. Tobacco consumption was now rampant in
American culture, and any place that didn't permit smoking was often seen as offensive and antisocial.
As cigarettes became a staple in American society, tobacco companies created a series of
advertisements in an attempt to persuade consumers to purchase their products. Large tobacco
companies such as Viceroys, Luckies Strikes, and Camel ran advertisements claiming that their
cigarettes were, doctor recommended, or that smoking gives your throat protection against
cough, and by far the most shocking, doctors smoke camel more than any other cigarette. In
addition to your everyday health professionals promoting the use of cigarettes, public figures
such as Mickey Mantle, Ronald Reagan, Santa Claus and even babies posed in advertisements to
encourage the public to buy cigarettes as it was the cool and healthy thing to do.
As early as 1951, tobacco companies were under threat as scientists began to link
cigarettes to lung cancer. This finding caused the public to enter a widespread health scare as the
majority of Americans smoked unfiltered cigarettes, causing tobacco companies to create the
first smoking filter in order to reduce the tar inhaled in the smoke. Companies started to run ads
in order to allay the fears of smoking that came with the discovery. Tobacco industries ran ads to
promote the so-called benefits of cigarettes. For example, tobacco company, Chesterfield, ran an
ad that claimed, A medical specialist is making regular bimonthly examinations of a group of
people from various walks of life. 45-percent of this group have smoked Chesterfield for an
average over ten yeas. After ten months the medical specialist reports that he observed no
adverse effects on the nose throat and sinuses of the group smoking from Chesterfield. In

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addition, other companies claimed the physician recommend spiel and that it had been
scientifically proven that cigarettes prevented cold and disease.
It wasn't until the release of the
Surgeon General Report of 1964 that sparked
the nationwide effort to prevent tobacco use.
During this time, about 50-percent of American
males said they smoked cigarettes, while 46percent of all Americans smoked cigarettes.
(CDC) As the face of the U.S. Public Health
Service, The Surgeon Generals Report on
Smoking and Health was a landmark report,
released by Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry.
It was the first federal government report
linking smoking to ill health such as lung
cancer and heart disease, and wagered the
foundations for the anti-smoking movement as
one New York Times article puts it, It is now official; it could hardly have been otherwise in
view of findings by many physicians and health organizations in the United States and Europe.
The Surgeon Generals Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health has declared that there is a
definite causative link between lung cancer and other major diseases and the continued use of
tobacco. To put it bluntly, smoking is harmful to healthand remedial action must be taken
The Surgeon Generals evaluation report is bold and devastating. The findings cannot be ignored
by cigarette, pipe and cigar smokers, young or old, or blown away by the tobacco industrys

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spokesman. (New York Times, January 12, 1964) Almost a year later, the public saw the first
official health warning on cigarette packs with the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising
Act of 1965. Even with the new knowledge about the negative consequences of smoking,
tobacco companies were still invincible, smoking was still prevalent in practically every aspect
of American culture. People were still permitted to smoke in the workplace, restaurants,
hospitals, and were on the TVs, radios, and newspapers of every American.
Changes in the social norms surrounding can be documented by examining the changes
in public policy, including the Availability of Fairness Doctrine, which allowed counter
advertising messages on television and radio, and increased restrictions on tobacco advertising
beginning with the ban on broadcast advertising in 1971. For example, Joe Camel was the
advertising mascot for Camel cigarettes a company that appallingly targeted children to buy
their products. The public went into outrage as it encouraged underage smoking, as The Journal
of the American Medical Association reported that American children are as familiar with Joe
Camel as they are with Mickey Mouse. As a result, this cartoon hooked millions of American
kids on tobacco products. Camel ended the campaign in 1991 due to a long-lasting lawsuit battle
the court conclusively ruled against Camel, claiming that the advertisement lured adolescents
to buy products that would ultimately harm their health. The act demanded that cigarette
advertising no longer appear on television or billboards, and efforts to restrict sales and
marketing to adolescents increased. In addition, indoor air policies switched from favoring
smokers to favoring nonsmokers as California became on of the first states in the nation to
outlaw smoking in bars, restaurants, and workplaces in 1998. Throughout the early 2000s, many
other states enacted some kind of statewide smoking ban, and as of today, only 14 out of the 50
states do not have smoking bans.

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One of the most effective actions by the government to prevent tobacco use was the
increase of federal and state tax rates on cigarettes, A study showed that a 10-percent increase in
the price of cigarettes could lead to a 4-percent decrease in the demand for cigarettes.
From then on, smoking culture went downhill, and by the year 2000, there were bans
everywhere, including movie theaters, restaurants, and places of employment. Now that the
public has been educated about the effects of smoking, they have more than often turned away
from it with disgust. A report from the CDC surveys that approximately 17.8-percent of adults
smoke cigarettes in 2015, meaning about 42.1 million adults in the United States smoke
cigarettes. One of the additional causes to this drastic decrease in smoking among Americans is
due to health organizations that have run TV ads that show people the consequences of smoking,
such as the infamous man with the hole in his throat, or the effective series of ads from
NYCQUITS. There is evidence showing that the CDCs ad campaigns have inspired 1.6 million
smokers to try to quit and has help over 100,000 quit smoking. (The Lancet) Researchers claim
that smoking will become obsolete within the next two generations. Since 1964, the American
public has made an excellent effort to defeat cigarettes, but now we have a bigger problem
The use of e-cigarettes, also know as vaping, is a new booming multi billion-dollar
industry aimed to replace the tobacco companies of old. E-cigarette smoking, or vaping culture
is quickly becoming popular with the younger generation, and is expected to make a reported
$1.5 billion in profit by the end of this year. (Bloomberg) E-cigarettes are an exact replica of a
cigarette, but instead, its battery powered, and made of some sort of metal. The e-cigarette
contains a battery, and a cartridge holding nicotine, and flavorings. Medical researchers believe

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that e-cigarettes may be safer than regular cigarettes, but it is too soon to determine the long term
effects of vaping.
Over the course of 60 years, smoking culture has seen its peak and demise due to the
influence of the mass media, government, and medical discoveries. Cigarettes were once seen as
a hot commodity, and tobacco consumption was an epidemic among the American people. As
smoking becomes less popular, tobacco companies will eventually become obsolete and go out
of business. The effort the American public has made since the 1960s has proven to be effective
as less and less Americans state that they smoke cigarettes, while more and more are in an effort
to quit.

Works Cited
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<"Basic Information." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control
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<"Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States." Centers for Disease Control
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<"History of the Surgeon General's Reports on Smoking and Health." Centers for Disease
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<Markel, Howard. "Tracing the Cigarettes Path From Sexy to Deadly." The New York Times.
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<"Then and Now: 50 Years since Cigarettes Linked to Cancer." ABC News. 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 4
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<"Tobacco Industry and Products." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for
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<"Vintage Tobacco/ Cigarette Ads of the 1940s." Vintage Tobacco/ Cigarette Ads of the 1940s.
Web. 4 Nov. 2015.>