Tag Archives: Advertising

Tobacco, Smoking and the Media


Timeline for blog



Post idea suggested and with assistance by Olivia Boye from Florida

By Rick Bretz

The tobacco crop was an original export from the colonies to England and Europe at the onset of colonization of North America.  It was a building block for the economic security of the United States. As the United States expanded and grew, tobacco products gained a healthy share of the disposable income market.  In time, for some people, that disposable income became a necessary purchase for many Americans.  The medical community and government officials came to the conclusion in the 20th Century that tobacco products, although enjoyable for some smokers, may create significant health issues with usage over time.

1940s Cigarette Ad
1940s Cigarette Ad

Tobacco product advertising from the 1940s through the middle 1960s remained unchallenged but the health argument remained in the background of the issue. Several television shows and networks brought on major tobacco companies to finance their programming.  Film stars were seen smoking while some were paid to endorse a certain brand.  The youth of America saw that smoking was cool and smoking meant that you were among the “in-crowd”;  and furthermore, your  personality exuded danger and adventure.  All of this, in addition to the belief that smoking was harmless, contributed to the steady rise in smokers over time.  This, of course, increased profits, and provided the necessary marketing funds for further advertising strategies.

The other side of the smoking issue relates to the altering of the carcinogen levels and other additives by companies to increase the likelihood of addiction. This is an important part of the story.  Nevertheless, it is an issue for another time.

The advertising game changed after the Surgeon General released a Health Advisory Report on June 11, 1964, outlining the negative health issues from long-term smoking.

From the Center for Disease Control website:

The Advisory Committee concluded that cigarette smoking is—

  • A cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men
  • A probable cause of lung cancer in women
  • The most important cause of chronic bronchitis
1960s ad
1960s ad

Later, the U.S. Congress adopted the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969. These laws—

  • Required a health warning on cigarette packages
  • Banned cigarette advertising in the broadcasting media
  • Called for an annual report on the health consequences of smoking
1980s print media ad
1980s print media ad

Despite pressure from the tobacco and broadcasting lobbies, the push to get a law passed to ban tobacco advertising gained momentum.  That led to the act to ban cigarette advertising from television and radio in 1971. On April 1, 1971, President Richard Nixon, a pipe smoker himself, signed into law legislation that prohibited tobacco advertising on television and radio.  Estimates at the time, showed that broadcast companies lost more than 220 million a year from advertising revenues.  At that time, 220 million dollars was a big chunk of change that had to be replaced in order for the industry to satisfy investors and profit margins. According to broadcasting records, the last televised cigarette ad aired on the Johnny Carson Show at 11:50 PM on January 1st 1971.  Carson’s ad occurred on January 1st, so that, in a compromise to the broadcasting lobby, they were able to get their last influx of profits by airing cigarette ads on the New Year’s bowl games.  What was broadcast media’s loss, was print media’s gain.  Tobacco company marketing campaigns moved advertising dollars to magazines and other print media.

Here are the primary 1971 smoking ad ban laws.

  • Made it unlawful to advertise cigarettes on radio or television beginning Jan. 2, 1971.
  • Changed the mandatory wording on cigarette packages from: “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous To Your Health” to: “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous To Your Health.”
  • Prohibited all state and local health-related regulation or prohibition of cigarette advertising.

Other provisions in the law are included here:


The video link below is from the archives and shows different cigarette ads through time.



According to the druglibary.org, “On October 20,1971, a U.S. District Court ruled that the Congressional ban on cigarette advertising is constitutional. The ruling stated that such advertising does not qualify under the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech; a sharp distinction was drawn between guarantees of freedom of speech for individuals and the “limited extent” to which broadcast advertising qualifies for such protection.”

Since those years when legislation was passed to curb cigarette advertising, the government and particularly congressional leaders have sought to prevent the sale of products to children, teenagers and adults by requiring age checks and high taxes on cigarette packs, cartons and boxes.

Some researchers have questioned whether this has curbed smoking numbers, considering the fact these same companies sell to foreign countries despite increasing legislation to do what the United States accomplished in the 60s and 70s.  It seems today, that it may be easier and cheaper to buy a marijuana cigarette or product than a tobacco product.  So, as they used to say in the military, “At ease, smoke ’em if you got ’em!”



                                                              1940s-1971                        1972-1990                           1991-2000            2001-2015

Film                                                Used frequently                                                                                              Used Sparingly


Television/Radio                      For advertising dollars until Jan 2, 1971                                             Characterization


Print                                              Continued with Surgeon General’s Warning


Billboards                                   Continued with Surgeon General’s Warning


World Wide Web                                                                                                        Pro-smoking imagery on websites



Medical Research                             Jan 11, 1964, Surgeon General releases first Health Advisory Report


Overseas                                             Effort to increase market in other countries after consumer domestic  demand decreased

Strategies                                           Marketing can’t depict smoking as being cool or moving up the social ladder



Notable Links:











1984-Thirty Years Later


by Rick Bretz

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, published in 1949, has been reestablished as the go-to book for all things wrong with government privacy invasion and society’s ills.   With government-funded security professionals scrutinizing some or all of the internet usage and phone conversations that are happening today, it does reflect the worst themes of 1984. Of course it is more complicated than the government watching over people. September 11, 2001, showed us that proper vigilance can go a long way toward keeping people safe from terrorists who want to prove a point by killing innocent people. Orwell’s novel remains a commentary on communist practices in the Soviet Union and modern relationships between governments, media and citizens throughout the world.

Some of the themes of 1984, nevertheless, seem to be blanketing our society as we live and work carrying our information devices. Smart Phone and internet monitoring are instances of privacy concerns. In spite of this fact, millions of people publicize their every move on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media. This fact makes it difficult to take the side of a person wronged by the invasion of privacy. People want privacy only on their terms. Like the movie star or celebrity who craves success but doesn’t want the paparazzi baggage that comes with it. If you want safety and security and still need your family and friends to know about last night’s pizza party, you have to compromise a little, maybe a lot.

Below is a 1984 to present comparison.

1984 Themes Today
Invasion of Privacy-1984————————2014> Phone Surveillance, internet tracking
Constant Surveillance1984———————2014> GPS Trackers in Vehicles, Cameras on Streets and at traffic lights. Aerial Surveillance
Torture (Room 101)-1984———————–2014> Pick a country
Double Think-1984——————————2014> Advertising, college professors

Cult of personality1984————————-2014>

World Leaders, celebrities, musicians, talk show hosts, and televangelist
Tele-screens (two-way Monitors)-1984——2014> Overhead surveillance, street cameras, two-way camera software
Class System (Proles, Outer Party)-1984——-2014> The 1 Percent, Poor, Working Class, Blue Collar, Middle Class, the Power Elite, Educated Elite, Fortune 500 CEOs, Government Officials (Elected and Appointed)
News Speak-1984——————————-2014> Affordable Healthcare Act, (government catchphrases used as titles for legislation)
Ministry of Plenty (Food Supply)-1984———-2014> Rising Oil Prices, Government Regulation, Inflation
Ministry of Peace (War)-1984——————-2014> World Leaders and Defense Ministers
Ministry of Truth (News)-1984——————2014> CEOs and managing editors of news organizations dictate the headlines and stories seen by consumers. Federal Communications Commission. Advertisers
Ministry of Love (Dissidents)-1984————-2014> Whistle blowers usually pay a price
Poverty, Vices-1984—————————–2014> Making vices like alcohol and drugs (marijuana) available control the public and provide needed revenue.
Censorship-1984——————————–2014> If a show or story does not please a power player, they have monetary and power influences to make it disappear.
Controlling the Middle Class-1984—————2014> Taxes, regulations and travel restrictions or religious and government organizations (Republican and Democratic Parties)


There are many ways to track a person today. It would be difficult to get lost when the hunter really wants to find you. Let me count the ways: GPS Device, Car Computers, Credit Cards, Smart Phone, Home Phone, Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Aerial Reconnaissance, Drones, and Toll Roads just to name a few.

Cars today have what is called a “Breaking Coach.” It tells you that you have driving skills. Don’t kid yourself. It is a way to determine how safe our driving habits are in case we are in an accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement officials really want to know this.

Your MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique set of digits that identifies your particular computer or Network Interface Card, and with the IP (Internet Protocol) address, can determine your internet history. It’s a digital signature.

When you drive through a toll booth, a camera records your drive through and your license plate and if you have a toll sticker on your window it identifies that too.

Officials in several states are studying the feasibility of adding hardware to vehicles to track the number of miles a car travels on the highway to determine a road tax.

And the hits just keep on coming.


Notable Links: