As we are all aware, the product of a thinlooking cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking, also knownas a cancer stick and go by the name cigarettes are a magnificent culturalartifact in the United States. Cigarettes have definitely changed over thecourse of a century. From the simple, paper rolling tobacco, to productizedcigarettes, to vapor products, we are able to see that the “cigarette” haschanged. Although it has changed physically, has it really changed in the eyesof Americans? Many consider vaporproducts just as harmful as cigarettes considering that the cigarette producesmany harmful effects on the human body alone. Throughout the years, tobacco andtobacco products have played a huge role in the lives of Americans and therehas been significant social and political events that have greatly contributedto the rise and fall of cigarette usage. From newspapers to televisioncommercials, cigarettes are promoted everywhere. The idea of cigarettes being”sexy” was something that was culturally attractive to the population do the ideathat it seemed more laidback. Cigarettes actually shadowed and hindered awaythe deadly and health concerning effects that cigarettes have on the humanbody.
Over the period of one hundred years, we are able to see the severaldifferent ways that cigarettes have transformed. Nowadays, there are severalvapor products and “E-cigs,” which are considered to have an effect oncigarettes causing a fall in cigarette usage due to the fact that many people arelooking to quit use these products. Many Americans have been exposed to cigaretteswhether you take a puff by your choice, a loved one smokes, through peerpressure, or even second hand smoke. This artifact has definitely changed over timeand certainly has an effect on Americans and their daily lives. Cigarettes havebeen advertised through advertisements and are part daily lives of Americansbecause of the cultural perception of cigarettes being viewed “cool”, “sexy””harmful” and a “successful product”. Tobaccowas discovered since the late 1400s and impacted the United States from itscreation in terms of financing wars and its mass production of commercializedcigarettes and even chewing tobacco “dip.
” Young in his book, Storyof The Cigarette, explains that “of all things American nothingis more so than the cigarette. It was from the New World that tobacco came toattention of the civilized nations, the first account being a remarkableexploration” (Young 4). Europeans were first introduced to tobacco whenChristopher Columbus and a group of men were given tobacco leaves by natives in1492. From then to 1612, in Jamestown, Virginia, the first successful tobaccocrop was grown and in seven years, tobacco had been known as the mostsuccessful and profitable export for the colonies (Young). In addition, during thefirst Thanksgiving all men gathered around the table feasting away and theyalso took the time to admire this successful tobacco crop. Many years later in1775 to 1861, during the Revolutionary and Civil War period, tobacco began toplay a huge role in which it aided as security especially in the loans whichwere borrowed by France. In addition, federal tobacco tax was established, assistingin financing the Civil War.
The tobacco industry sought great advancements fromthis point on and the industry increased the quantity of tobacco that wasconsumed by Americans. Philips Morris Bran was created in 1847 in whichMarlboro was one of their brands and by 1875 tobacco companies began to produceand sell chewing tobacco. Marlboro cigarettes were advertised with a cowboy onthe back of a horse and what is more American than that? This influenced theAmerican cultural perception in the way that a key figure, a “cowboy” was beingshown smoking and enjoying cigarettes and so this made it seem “cool” and”laidback” and simply just a lifestyle for Americans. This showed thatcigarettes were manly and considered tough for men, it gave them a sense ofpower. Howard Cox in his book, The GlobalCigarette: Origins and Evolution of British American Tobacco, statesthat “The evolution of the international cigarette manufacturing industrybefore the Second World War occurred in four broad phases. From around 1880 to1902 the industry witnessed an initial competitive period which was marked by ashift from hand-rolled to machine-made products, and from export-led growth toone based increasingly on foreign direct investment” (Cox 4). James Bonsac in 1884 received the patent forthe first cigarette-rolling machine and so cigarette mass production began toinitiate becoming much more available and less costly for Americans (Cox).
Thecultural perception at this point in time was that tobacco was a successfulcrop that could be used to really help people and could be mass produced forfurther industry purposes. Cigarettes were viewed as a “successful product”because they provided Americans with this idea of mass production which helpedthem advance in industry, gain money and become more efficient in the start of business. Inthe 20th century, tobacco evolved and became dominant in the UnitedStates. Tobacco began to dominate the American economy as well as pop culturein the early 20th century, however during the mid 20thcentury, public opinion began to change from a positive to negative aspect. In1918, American troops that returned home from WWI began to become addictedbecause cigarettes became a part of the soldier’s ration during war-time. Randallin her article, “The History of Tobacco” includes that “The use of cigaretteexploded during World War I (1914-1918), where cigarettes were called thesoldier’s smoke” (Randall). By the time of WWII, women had more freedom and sothey began to smoke while men were fighting at war. Randall also explains that DuringWorld War II (1939-1945), cigarette sales were at an all time high.
Cigaretteswere included in a soldier’s C-Rations (like food!). “During World War II anduntil 1976 a mini-pack of either three or four Old Gold, Chesterfield, LuckyStrike, or Camel cigarettes, along with a fold of waterproof paper matches, wasincluded in the rations issued to our fighting troops” (The Army HistoricalFoundation). Tobacco companies sent millions of cigarettes to the soldiers forfree, and when these soldiers came home, the companies had a steady stream ofloyal customers.
During the 1920s, American tobacco companies began to promotecigarettes to college students by running advertisements in newspapers as wellas on-campus promotions and especially at student and athletic events.Advertisement has only seemed to enhance at this point on. From newspapers totelevision commercials, cigarettes were being promoted everywhere (The ArmyHistorical Foundation).
After WWII, the cultural perception of tobaccotremendously went from positive to negative because research began to provethat tobacco does have a harmful effect on the human body. Because of this, tobacco companies needed tomake a change in their product and so they created filtered cigarettes with lowtarter which in the eyes of the public were much healthier and so the rise ofcigarette sales and consumption sprung once again. Around the 1960s the public became more andmore aware of what they were putting in their bodies (Randall). This wasinfluenced though cigarette labeling, a ban on advertisements, smoking beingbanned on flights, and even an age restriction.
Firsthand cigarette smoking has definitely caused many smokers to have long-termhealth conditions and resulting in the inability to quit due to the addictiveeffects tobacco has. Many smokers smoke at early ages revolving around a socialstigma applied to tobacco with their environment. This social stigma isconsidered as cigarettes make you cool, make you fit in and that they can quitwhenever they want with no long term effects. Cigarettes include over 7,000 chemicals of Nicotine whichis a huge component to the cigarette’s addictiveness due to its powerfulwithdrawal effects. Secondhand smoke can be a bit worse than first hand smokean in some ways it is more dangerous.
Secondhand smoke particles are muchsmaller than the first hand smoke particles in which they usually reach thebloodstream much quicker and easier. Secondhand smoke is proven to be theleading cause of getting adolescents to begin smoking as they watch theirfriends and idols smoke they get the idea or they are peer pressured. Thecultural perception regarding responsibility of smoking has shifted beforevapor products became a hit. The American population’s cultural perception hasdefinitely changed in the way that people were looking for different ways togive off this “sexy” effect of smoking without causing health harm to theirbodies.
The idea of cigarettes being “sexy” simply revolves around the factthat it is an attraction to watch smoke come out of someone’s mouth. It isappealing to see this idea of blowing out this smoke instead of just breathingout air and so this began to become an attraction to many and even isconsidered one today. Tobaccois not as powerful today as it was in American history, however it is stillrelevant in the 21st century and is continuously evolving with thepresent day consumer. The FDA describes “Vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookahpens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or ecigs), and e-pipes as some of themany terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (E.N.D.
S.).” Farsalinoset al. in their article, “Analytical Assessment of e-Cigarettes: from Contentsto Chemical and Particle Exposure Profiles” address that “e-Cigarettesrepresent alternative-to-smoking products which produce a visible aerosol thatthe user inhales. They simulate the psychobehavioral aspects of smokingdependence and deliver the chemical component of the smoking dependence,nicotine” (Farsalinos et al.). Today, there are new policies that are stillbeing passed against the tobacco industry.
Smoking began to be banned in publicareas such as schools, recreation centers, etc. With the decline of thetraditional cigarette products, the rise of e-cigarettes’ emerged and thee-cigarettes entered the U.S.
market in 2007 (Farsalinos et al.). These e-cigarettesare devices that heat a liquid which is usually nicotine based with a flavoringthat the user inhales (FDA). These e-cigarettes have begun to have an impact onyoung adults and teens in the recent years. Nowadays you see adults and teens”puffing” on these vapes, “blowing clouds” and some are getting the same “rush”as they would by smoking a cigarette. These products target people who want toquit smoking and strongly target young adults, since the “vapor” seems cool oreven “sexy” (Farsalinos et al.).
The cultural perception has changed in ways ofcigarettes being perceived as dirty. Now with the creation of vapes, people areable to still feel that “sexy” effect of smoking a cigarette without actuallysmoking one. Instead, this idea of inhaling something other than air and not”dirty” has developed allowing people to use the same oral product and feel andshow this sexiness and are not causing as much health harm to their bodies.
As cigarettes changed throughout acentury, so did cigarette advertisements. Currently, tobacco advertising is oneof the most regulated forms of marketing in the United States. In 1789, thefirst tobacco advertisement in the United States was published in the New YorkDaily Paper by P. Lorillard and Company. The advertisements simply promotedcigarettes in a positive way and did not state anything negative about them.Some advertisements would promote cigarettes as having double the quantity forthe same price. The advertisements were created with big text to draw attentionto the viewer and would say “YOU CAN GET TWO FOR JUST THE PRICE OF ONE or DOUBLETHE QUANTITY REDUCE THE PRICE.
” The cultural perception definitely began tochange through advertisements. The fact that these advertisements were actuallyencouraging people to buy cigarettes made the population believe it was ok tobuy and smoke them. Advertisements utilized many attracting aspects, and usedfamous public figures, cartoons and revolved their ads around a fun andexciting aspect in order to show people that cigarettes should be bought andsmoked. As WWII came around, cigarette advertisements began to hit the radioand the television in America.
They were now showing Bugs Bunny at the end ofthe show smoking a cigarette. At this time, it was considered “ok” forcigarettes to be advertised that way because it was a part of this social normthat everyone smokes and so it should be advertised positively. People viewedthis as “hey, if Bugs Bunny can smoke a cigarette on television, well then Ican smoke a cigarette too.” Stine, in his article, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: 20th Century Tobacco Advertisements”states that “Tobacco marketers featured healthy, vigorous, fun-loving people intheir ads. Often these were celebrity figures from sports and entertainmentfields, other times they featured actors portraying physicians, dentists, orscientists. Some ads tapped into concerns about weight gain; some portrayed themiddle-class comforts of home, holiday, recreation, or family pets.” The ideaof cigarettes being “sexy” changed slightly through advertisements.
Thecultural perception shifted from sexiness to “enthusiasm,” “excitement” andeven this idea of being “laidback” and “chill,” where ads were part of thesocial norm and used people and characters to really encourage the populationto smoke and buy cigarettes. The cultural perception began to change in1971, when Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act which bannedall tobacco advertisement through television and the radio. In addition, in1884, the Congress passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Actwhich forced cigarette boxes to be labeled with the surgeons general warning onthe box.
Now that advertisements have gotten stricter the cultural perceptionchanged in the way that cigarettes were no longer being viewed as “sexy” and”fun.” Instead, they were viewed as dangerous and harmful and by cigaretteadvertisements pushing for this statement of cigarettes being viewed asdangerous, the population began to be convinced that cigarettes do truly causeharmful health effects. In 1999, all cigarette advertisement billboards in Americawere forced to switch to anti-cigarette ads containing cigarette ad parodiesand comical slogans which poked the cigarette companies. Lastly, in 2010, themost recent act to be passed against tobacco advertisement was The FamilySmoking and Tobacco Control Act. This act banned tobacco companies fromsponsoring sports teams, music, and other cultural events and they banned themfrom putting their logos and slogans on any apparel. Today, the United Stateseven has restrictions on Tobacco in motion pictures.
In addition, tobaccocompanies are not even arguing with the heath warning labels anymore. Hiilam etal. in their article, “The Evolution ofHealth Warning Labels on Cigarette Packs: The Role of Precedents, and TobaccoIndustry Strategies to Block Diffusion” state that, “Health warninglabels, especially labels with graphic elements, threaten the tobacco industrybecause they are a low-cost, effective measure to reduce smoking. Multinationaltobacco companies did not object to voluntary innocuous warnings with ambiguoushealth messages, in part because they saw them as offering protection fromlawsuits and local packaging regulations” (Hiilam et al.
) Tobaccohas definitely changed throughout United States history in regards to policies,economics, pop culture and mostly the fact that tobacco has continued to impactus today and its deep influence has a strong affect on the United States. Fromsmoking traditional cigarettes, to chewing tobacco, to vaping, the idea of a”cigarette” has been around for quiet awhile and no matter the harmful effectsit has on the human body, it will continue to be around for the generations tocome. As of 2015, an estimation of about36.
5 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. 36.5 million adultssmoke cigarettes, out of those adults an ample portion of them experience theharmful effects of cigarettes and are dying due to its deadly effects and so ifcigarettes continue to be around for many generations these numbers well justcontinue to increase. After decades of lawsuits, public campaigns and painfulstruggles, Americans have finally done what once seemed impossible. Most of thecountry has quit smoking, saving millions of lives and leading to massivereductions in cancer. Hidden among the steady declines in recent years is thestark reality that cigarettes are becoming a habit of the poor.
The nationalsmoking rate has fallen to historic lows, with just 15?percent of adults stillsmoking. But the socioeconomic gap has never been bigger. Today, ruralresidents are diagnosed with lung cancer at rates 18 to 20 percent above thoseof city dwellers. By nearly every statistical measure, researchers say,America’s lower class now smokes more and dies more from cigarettes than otherAmericans. This widening gap between classes carries huge health implicationsand is already reshaping the country’s battle over tobacco control. Thecultural perception throughout the years has changed from cigarettes being cooland sexy and giving off the idea of being laidback to cigarettes actually beingconcerning due to their health concerning side effects. Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in theworld. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”