‘Silly’ health-claim ads turn off tobacco growers

“As representatives of 71,000 North Carolina tobacco growers met last week in Raleigh’s Sir Walter Hotel, they filled the air with their troubles as well as tobacco smoke.

“Some tobaccomen thought the blame for the slowdown [in cigarette consumption] should be put on the cigarette companies, and especially the new filter cigarette publicity. Cried Grower-Warehouseman Fred S. Royster, president of the Bright Belt Warehouse Association: ‘The public is being frightened from tobacco by outlandish medical claims by some of the manufacturers. Much of this advertising is plain silly.’

“Added Market Specialist Phil Hedrick of the North Carolina agriculture department: ‘It’s defensive advertising that’s doing it. A medical authority says, for instance, that there is a high incidence of lung cancer among heavy smokers, and immediately the tobacco companies rush to the defense. Instead of saying that cigarettes relax you, comfort you and soothe the nerves, they deny that their brand will give you a disease . . . ‘

“Editorialized the Raleigh News & Observer: ‘It still seems a little odd that those who most emphasize the possible bad effects of cigarettes on people are the cigarette manufacturers themselves.’ ”

— From Time magazine,  Nov. 9, 1953