History of Medicine
The Non-Smoker and Smoke-free Environments
As the images in the previous sections demonstrate, smoking has long played an important role in popular culture and the shaping of personal identity. This relationship helps explain smoking's persistence, despite widespread anti-smoking campaigns, and also functions as a limit on government intervention in our everyday consumption decisions. Informed by this relationship, anti-smoking advertisers have combined negative representations of smokers with positive portraits of non-smokers as far more appealing or desirable. In some cases this involves emulating the strategies of tobacco advertisers by using the same glamorization and normalization strategies in the depiction of non-smokers as popular or heroic and smoke-free environments as invigorating or therapeutic. These images employ the following techniques: 1) emphasizing the psychological, social, economic, and health benefits of smoking cessation (or regaining non-smoker status); 2) stressing a sense of personal or social responsibility as motivation for choosing to be a non-smoker; 3) using deglamorization strategies to suggest that the non-smoker is more fashionable; and 4) appropriating idealistic or romanticized environmental images as symbolic representations of health and the decision not to smoke.
Responding to the 1985 Surgeon General's report on smoking and occupational exposure, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established a smoke-free environment in its facilities in 1987, affecting 120,000 employees nationwide. One year later, the American Lung Association established a multi-component program called TUFFS (Team Up for Freedom from Smoking) in order to help businesses create and implement smoking policies in the workplace. As part of the TUFFS program, this poster was part of a series of workplace advertisements designed to promote cooperative anti-smoking measures in a lighthearted and good-natured manner. By using animation, these posters use humor and exaggerated depictions of workplace encounters to promote behavioral change. This image encourages smoking cessation with its clever headline -- “Everyone loves a quitter” -- and the embellished celebration of an ex-smoker, hailed by his co-workers.
This poster from the American Lung Association in 1985 addresses the problem of secondhand smoke (also known as involuntary smoking at the time, and more recently as environmental tobacco smoke), which provided the exclusive focus for the 1986 report of the Surgeon General on smoking. By reminding the viewer that their behavior affects children, the ALA avoids the polarization between nonsmokers and smokers that frequently characterized the debate over secondhand smoke in the 1980s. Placing a young girl in the role of "nonsmoker," the image has a potentially greater power to evoke a response on the part of the smoking viewer, by appealing to the viewer's sense of culpability. The headline also provides an effective complement to the photograph by reflecting the environmentalist ideal of social responsibility.
Appealing to contemporary trends and popular merchandise among a teenage audience, this 1994 poster features a teenage girl surrounded by cultural objects including pizza, sunglasses, video games, boxer shorts, bagels, flight jacket, and football. These things are simply proclaimed "in" style while the ashtray with cigarette butts and a burning cigarette are labeled "out" of fashion. While simplistic in layout and message, this poster only requires two words to convey its message of deglamorization. Collectively, the images generate positive associations with the nonsmoking girl that discourage the appeal of both cigarettes as a product and smoking as an activity.
In 1988, the World Health Organization celebrated its 40th anniversary and the first World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), a global event where smokers around the world united to break free from their dependence on tobacco. Established to raise international awareness and support tobacco-free initiatives, the first WNTD honored 11 organizations and 29 individuals for their work in promoting the concept of tobacco-free societies. Artist Biman Mullick was one of the recipients, chosen for establishing CLEANAIR, a non-profit organization engaged in drawing public attention to the effects of smoking on health and the environment, and for creating a series of posters that politely, strongly, and humorously deliver the message that non-smoking is the norm. The image in the poster signifies an opposition between smoking and health (or smoker and nonsmoker), suggesting a choice for one is a choice against the other. The headline presents the viewer with a choice between tobacco and health, while an abstraction of a human head chooses flowers over a cigarette (environment over smoking).
This animated poster from the National Heart Foundation of Australia's "Be Smoke Free" campaign portrays a group of people engaged in an array of outdoor activities such as bike riding, skateboarding, surfing, and playing tennis. The message, that these are smoke-free activities, is made implicit by the headline announcing, "Smoke free's the go." The poster also effectively uses anti-smoking iconography -- a circle with a cigarette inside and a line through it. Within the animated scene, some of the characters wear shirts with the no-smoking icon, while the same symbol is featured on a street sign and frames the border of the poster. The message at the bottom of the poster, "Get your heart into it," refers to the connection between cigarette smoking and heart disease.
Images of pristine outdoor settings provide a common motif for the promotion of smoking cessation and smoke-free environments. The image to the left, from the South Australia Health Commission, is part of a campaign designed to equate a smoke-free office environment with a lush and unspoiled riparian setting.
The poster to the right, from the Australian Heart Foundation, also establishes a relationship between the non-smoker and an entirely "different world" of majestic snow-capped mountains and beautiful tree-lined lakes. These images offer a counter-marketing response to images of freedom, escape, and fantasy used by tobacco companies to sell their products.
The poster to the left, from the Health Education Committee of France, illustrates a tactic commonly used in recent anti-smoking advertisements-the appropriation of some of the most iconic images of tobacco ads. In this case, the familiar photograph of the cowboy, associated with both cigarette smoking and masculinity through years of Marlboro advertisements, is given new meaning through its text. Instead of using the image to promote cigarette smoking, the headline reads, unexpectedly, "Welcome to a world without tobacco."