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Anti-Smoking Campaigns Introduction

This section of the exhibit on anti-smoking campaigns scrutinizes the political, social, and psychological messages utilized by anti-tobacco educators since the 1960s in print advertisements, posters, and billboards, in order to examine how traditional values, cultural conditions, and medical knowledge are conveyed in print media. The exhibit includes images of the cigarette, the smoker, the nonsmoker, smoke-free environments, and celebrities in a variety of campaigns created by voluntary organizations, professional advertising firms, and governmental organizations.

In the first half of the twentieth century, anti-smoking messages emphasized primarily moralistic and hygienic concerns. Anti-tobacco crusaders saw the cigarette as ungodly and unhealthy. Although medical objections to smoking remained implicit in their arguments, activists did not have any medical consensus behind them. In fact, medical opinion was generally noncommittal until the 1964 Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, which consolidated and legitimized 15 years of growing evidence of the dangers of smoking to health.

The 1964 Surgeon General's report marked the beginning of a transformation in attitudes and behaviors related to cigarettes, but smoking norms and habits yielded slowly and incompletely. Despite legislative restrictions on advertising in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the persistent and pervasive marketing of cigarettes continued in different forums. Still, grassroots activists, professional consumer advocates, and the public health bureaucracy remained inspired by scientific and social interest in the hazards of smoking. Their collective anti-smoking campaigns have employed a variety of educational, clinical, regulatory, economic, and counter-advertising strategies.

Anti-Smoking Campaigns: Introduction > The Cigarette > The Smoker > The Non-Smoker and Smoke-Free Environments > The Celebrity