Tag Archives: CDC

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:











Eight Grateful Reasons to be Living Today


by Rick Bretz

I see and hear many negative news items on the web, radio and television. I decided to write about what is great about living in today’s society. For the most part, people practice their religious faith or lack thereof despite a few pockets of backward groups and societies. Wars and violence have always existed. Unlike the past with local papers and radio, today each instance is magnified by all of our media choices. Blank internet pages need to be filled with content so local news gets more real estate on the screen. This means that the world and the people who live on it, separated by cultures, religions, language and nation boundaries, remain a work in progress. We all have issues to work on but overall today’s societies have many positives to offer.

 1. Fighting Diseases–The current Ebola virus issue is an example of how countries today are better equipped to stop the spread of dangerous diseases. Sure it has moved to other countries but it has been identified and individuals quarantined. In the past, the disease might have moved without anyone knowing about the virus until it would have become a worldwide epidemic. Today the Center for Disease Control and the Worldwide Health Organization monitor the spread of diseases and create strategies to combat any epidemic. In addition, vaccines prevent the spread of disease among children and adults. Penicillin and other drugs prevent or hold many health issues in check.   A hundred years or so, it was common for parents to lose children to diseases before the age of 10. Today it happens but rarely from a common disease like mumps or other types of contagious diseases




2. Technology–Let’s face it. We have hardware today that just makes life easier. The dishwasher, the microwave, the GPS, the SMART phone, ATM machines, remote controls, cameras on cars for backing up, and garage door openers help us get through the day. Here’s hoping that all of the satellites stay in the sky because if they fall out, all of us will have to pull over on the side of road because we will all be lost.   We even have automated windshield wipers. I recently bought a new car after driving the same one for more than 10 years. The new car has all of the wiz-bang stuff such as satellite radio and Bluetooth command technology but it also has auto sensing windshield wipers so if it rains we don’t have to bother with turning the knob on the steering wheel. Just in case I can’t recognize that it is raining, the car does it for me. Yesterday’s cars didn’t even have power steering.





3. Freedom of Movement–We can go anywhere, anytime by car, train, airplane or boat as long as we have the money, time and the means. Today travelers move at a faster rate across the country and the globe for less cost than at any time in the history of the human race. We can run anywhere but we can’t hide. But that’s another list about today’s tracking technology.





4. Consumer and Worker Safety–Watchdog groups have made it a safer world to live and work. Some may hold the view that they go overboard but you could also say that if it has the potential to happen, it will happen, either at work or at play. Nobody wants to see a loved one hurt and organizations like the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Food and Health Administration and Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversee safety and health in the United States. International organizations include the International Consumer Product, Health and Safety Organization in addition to an individual country’s safety departments. With procedures and equipment in place like fall restraints, harnesses and safety glasses, the labor force is more secure and protected than ever. Lately work place violence has been in the news but that has always been a danger due to personalities and conflict issues. Stress will always be a part of everyday life. Making sure one takes care of a family’s health and well-being tends to do that to someone.





5. Less Crime and Violence–This one may be controversial but it is true. Taking into account the single years where crime statistics rise slightly, FBI Crime figures show a decrease. If you cherry pick certain years and types of crime you can justify certain increases but overall there has been less crime. In addition, if you zero in on cities with large populations with high murder rates, you would think that violent crime in increasing. Statistics by the FBI and other organization like the Department of Justice show a downward trend. From its peak in the middle 90s, violent crime rates have been dropping or holding steady. That’s in the United States. In most European and Asian countries you can walk around relatively safely. Now that is not taking into account areas of the world where war is raging. For any traveler though, it is best to take precautionary measures whether traveling form the United States to another country or international citizen flying to the United States.  We always need to work on decreasing violence but domestic violence, reported and unreported, is what needs to be addressed. Check it out for yourself.







war photo


6. Less War–It’s true that more people have been killed by war and conflict in the 20th century than any other.  The statistics are inflated due to weapons technology. Bigger, better, faster weapons used against citizens as well as the military means more death and higher numbers. Two world wars and a long Vietnam War as well as the war on terrorism that began long before this century has contributed to the human death toll. Having stated that, previous centuries were filled with conflict in several countries at the same period in history for different reasons.  The exception was peace rather than war during a lifetime. You can point to a certain year on a timeline and examine Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Asia Minor, Russia and Africa and more often than not a conflict or war was raging among countries on those lands. Although the United Nations has its critics, the organization does provide an opportunity for countries to resolve differences and hold leaders accountable for their actions.




7.  Economic Stability–Despite pockets of poverty and suffering throughout the world, a majority of the world enjoys the ability and the right to earn a comfortable wage and most make enough to satisfy the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, such as food, shelter, security, and other things like SMART Phones. Furthermore, governments, having passed measures and legislation, prevent wild stock market fluctuations and crashes by using all of the countermeasure tools after learning the lessons of 1929 and 2008 economic collapses.  Laws such as antitrust legislation also exist today enabling justice departments to catch white-collar financial crime.





best storm clouds

8. Natural Disaster Measures and Warnings—The ability to forecast hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, tornadoes as well as snow storms and other weather problems has helped  people throughout the world prepare before nature unleashes its wrath. Sometimes forecasters miss the mark but more often they let us know what is moving in well before the day it arrives. Often predicting disasters like the 2004 Tsunami is difficult. The good news is that with each year, forecasters and scientists are learning and finding out more information about how to prepare.




That’s it. When you think about it as President Barack Obama said to the United Nation’s General Assembly recently, “this is the best time in human history to be born, for you are more likely than ever before to be literate, to be healthy, and to be free to pursue your dreams.” He is right. If you think objectively without any political leanings, he is correct. We do live in a world today that is much safer and more convenient than ever. And that’s a positive.

President Barack Obama’s speech here.