Tracing the Cigarette’s Path From Sexy to Deadly
By Howard Markel, MD
In contrast to the symbol of death and disease it is today, from the early 1900s to the 1960s the cigarette was a cultural icon of sophistication, glamour and sexual allure – a highly prized commodity for one out of two Americans.
Many advertising campaigns from the 1930s through the 1950s extolled the healthy virtues of cigarettes. Fullcolor magazine ads depicted kindly doctors clad in white coats proudly lighting up or puffing away, with slogans like “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” (...)
In the 1980s, scientists established the revolutionary concept that nicotine is extremely addictive. The tobacco companies publicly rejected such claims, even as they took advantage of cigarettes’ addictive potential by routinely spiking them with extra nicotine to make it harder to quit smoking. And their marketing memorandums document advertising campaigns aimed at youngsters to hook whole new generations of smokers.
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