Cigarettes?: Cigarette and Anti-Smoking Industries' Response to Smoking
This project will focus on the effects that new information about smokers' health has had on the cigarette industry and its advertising. In the early ages of cigarette advertising, numerous ads appeared which featured doctors claiming that cigarettes were good for the digestion and to calm stress. People honestly believed that smoking cigarettes were, while maybe not good for you, at least would not have harmful effects. The cigarette industry was in what is now referred to as its "Golden Age." However, in the early 1950's, studies began to appear which linked cigarette smoking to cancer, and in 1964 the Surgeon General, Luther Terry, released what is now called "The Surgeon General's First Report on Smoking and Health." This was the first widely publicized acknowledgement of the link between cigarette smoking and cancer.
Following this report, cigarette ads faced an increasing series of limitations and bans. In 1971, cigarette ads were completely banned from television and seventeen years later, the tobacco industry first paid damages to the widow of a cigarette smoker. The industry began to seriously consider ways in which to continue appealing to potential smokers while dealing with the now well-established fact that smoking caused cancer. Since then, we have seen a great decline in pro-smoking and cigarette advertising, mainly for health reasons. Cigarette packages now carry a government-regulated amount of health warnings, such as "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight," and "Quitting Smoking Now May Decrease Your Chances of Adverse Health Conditions." In addition, anti-smoking campaigns have been steadily increasing, and now take up a great deal of television and print advertising space. Web sites such as "TheTruth.com" and "GottaQuit.com" have launched severe attacks against the cigarette industry for its persistence in selling a product that has been shown to be the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
This project will consist of three main written sections. The content of these sections will be supplemented by a survey of smoking attitudes, habits and observations as well as an Internet-based timeline highlighting key dates for this project and featuring links to important documents and interesting ads from the 1940s onwards. The first written section will outline the proven health risks of smoking. We will give a brief history of scientific findings in this area, including the revolutionary 1964 Surgeon General's report. In addition, several studies that were either conducted or subsidized by tobacco companies will be discussed and compared to other research. Results from the survey will be integrated into those sections of the written project to which the results are pertinent. The survey covers anti-smoking effectiveness, reasons for beginning and quitting smoking, and the conscious effects of cigarette ads.
The second section will be the main body of the project and will discuss what steps the cigarette industry took to address the health issue. This section will include information from several of the Marlboro interviews, as well as information about the "Settleback" campaign era, which has been cited as the result of "our concerns with the impact that this whole smoking and health question was having at the time," according to John Landry, Brand Advertising Manager from 1959 to the mid-80s. Other cigarette companies turned to health-oriented advertising too, although they ceased fairly quickly when they realized the ads were only serving to remind people that the product could kill them. Also, we will discuss the efforts that the industry made from the late 1950s to the early 1980s to create a "safer cigarette," which was not terribly successful. However, the companies did create low tar and nicotine cigarettes as well as filter cigarettes. The marketing of the latter created its own set of problems, as filtered cigarettes were seen as feminine and not suitable for a "real man." The ways in which this was addressed will also be discussed.
The third and final section will explore the modern rise of the anti-smoking establishment, evident in the flood of advertising by "TheTruth.com," "GottaQuit.com" and several other anti-smoking organizations. The anti-smoking movement began basically as a reaction to the way that cigarette companies were dealing with the health issues surrounding their product. These organizations try to increase consumer awareness of the real dangers of cigarettes and the benefits of quitting now. "TheTruth.com" is most notable as the hardest hitting of the organization, with the airing of commercials portraying "Big Tobacco" as liars and murders who had full knowledge of the "death" they were and are selling. In addition, we will discuss several other anti-smoking movements and resolutions, such as the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (from the Consumers International website).
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