WWI solved cigarettes’ image problem

“[As recounted in ‘The Cigarette: A Political History’ by Sarah Milov, 2019] The cigarette century started slowly. Before the First World War, smoking had doubtful associations for most Americans. James Buchanan Duke’s American Tobacco Company pioneered the manufacture of desire by surrounding cigarettes with Orientalist fantasy, but the unintended  consequence of such advertising was to reinforce the connections in the popular mind between smoking and foreigners or immigrants: hot-blooded Italians, swarthy Turks, but not manly Anglo-Saxons….

“The war transformed cigarettes from symbols foreignness to emblems of patriotism….”

— From “Pinhookers and Pets” by Jackson Lears in London Review of Books

‘Avoid over-indulgence’ — with Lucky Strikes!

“A 1928 advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes said, ‘Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet,’ until the confection industry threatened legal action. In 1930, the ad was rewritten to say, ‘We do not represent that smoking Lucky Strike Cigarettes will bring modern figures or cause the reduction of flesh. We do declare that when tempted to do yourself too well, if you will “Reach for a Lucky” instead, you will thus avoid over-indulgence in things that cause excess weight and, by avoiding over-indulgence, maintain a modern, graceful form.’

“There is some truth to this claim, says George Bray, professor of medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, since cigarettes do ‘stimulate energy expenditure’ (or burn calories) and probably do substitute for snacking for some users. And those who quit smoking do tend to gain weight when they replace the oral gratification of smoking with eating. But no one can call cigarette usage a healthy approach.”

— From “From Lucky Strikes to tapeworms: 7 of the oddest weight-loss schemes of the past were also unhealthy” by Debra Bruno in the Washington Post (Jan. 27)


‘Smoke Without Fear’: The industry strikes back

“Reports linking the death rate from cancer with cigarette smoking were ridiculed this week by Donald C. Cooley, author of  ‘Smoke Without Fear,’ a 32-page booklet published by True Magazine.

“Cooley, managing editor of Your Health and Your Life magazines, has one piece of advice to persons who enjoy smoking and who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to give up the habit — quit trying.

“Cooley pointed out that consumption of cigarettes in the United States has increased 456 percent since 1920, and lung cancer deaths in men have increased 411 per cent since 1930.

“A graph, he adds, would show cigarette smoking and lung cancer deaths shooting up at the same frightening rate.

” ‘However,’ Cooley said, ‘you can make a similar chart showing that the cost of living has increased in about the same proportion as has male lung cancer. A debater might argue that four times as many men now have cancer because coffee now costs $1.20 a pound, as against 30 cents in 1930.’

“By the same token, he pointed out, life expectancy has risen with the increased use of cigarettes.”

— From Billboard magazine, September 18, 1954

Donald C. Cooley is actually Donald G. Cooley, otherwise best known as author of  “The New Way to Eat and Get Slim” (1941) and founding editor of the magazine that would become Mechanix Illustrated.

tobacco.org reprints Cooley’s sophistic booklet , which was the brainchild of Hill & Knowlton, the industry’s PR factory.


Should Cooperstown find spot for Buck Duke?

“At the same time [James B.] Duke was working to have the Bonsack [cigarette-making] machine perfected, he was installing a print shop in his Durham factory that could employ color lithography….

“Cards freely distributed with each pack of Cameo, Crosscut or Duke’s Best varied from the educational (flags and stamps of foreign countries) to the exotic (actresses wearing the costumes of foreign countries). Sets of ‘actresses,’ usually not fully clothed, were especially popular…. although Washington Duke objected to such ‘lascivious’ pictures….

“According to the New York Times, tobacco dealers like Duke used premiums to ‘entice boys to excessive cigarette smoking… Many a boy under 12 is striving for the entire collection, which necessitates the consumption of nearly 12,000 cigarettes. He will become demoralized and possibly dishonest to accomplish his purpose.’

“This commodity-connected collecting was a lasting innovation that continues today with baseball cards….”

— From “The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product the Defined America” (2007) by Allan M. Brandt

Lucky Strike Means… Fine Public Schools?

“At the Asheville, N.C., City College last fortnight Dean Henry Dexter Learned gave students, including girls, permission to smoke in the college building between classes. An outraged Board of Education planned to oust Dr. Learned…. The Dean calmly explained: ‘If nobody smoked cigarets what would happen to the public school system of North Carolina? This is the biggest cigaret producing state in the Union.’

“The pedagogs did not heed this economic plea [and] voted to dismiss the Dean….”

— From Time magazine, Aug. 12, 1929

‘More Doctors Smoke Camels’: Recount, please

“As concerns about the health implications of smoking persisted — and then increased — in the 1930s and 1940s, advertising explicitly addressed these anxieties…. R. J. Reynolds fixed on the likely notion that smokers would be attracted to the brand that their physician chose, and that physicians would advocate for a brand that lionized the medical profession….

“The ‘More Doctors Smoke Camels’ campaign was apparently based on the work of A. Grant Clarke, a William Esty ad executive, on loan to R. J. Reynolds to establish a Medical Relations Division. Clarke would distribute free packs of Camels at medical conventions; pollsters from an ‘independent research organization’ would then be sent to ask the physicians what brand of cigarettes they were carrying.”

— From “The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America” (2007) by Allan M. Brandt