25 July 2010
I am a smoker. This is not a statement I make with pride. It is merely a fact. I grew up during an era when advertisements for cigarettes not only showed doctors smoking and espousing their particular brands, but also recommended menthol cigarettes for cases of irritated throats. Later cigarettes became associated with athleticism, fun, social acceptance, and, of course, sexual attractiveness, as recently seen on the Jay Leno Show (2010). During the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960’s, longer, prettier, and slimmer cigarettes, with equally suggestive brand names, were manufactured and marketed specifically targeting the “independent, liberated” woman. The Marlboro Man targeted men, representing the independent, hard-working ideal of the American cowboy. Advertising industry and media worked effectively to present smoking as all-American pleasure, not only crossing gender divides, but practically required to fully express ones independence, sexuality, and worthiness. Bombarded on the airwaves and through print, it is not surprising this
image of smoking became so prevalent in the United States and, through westernization, many other parts of the globe. When one considers the first national smoking ban originated in Nazi Germany, a sense of defiant patriotism very possibly added to the appeal (Proctor, 2001).
Since then, the popular public perception of cigarettes and smoking has changed drastically. It is not my focus in this paper to address the health reasons for this reversal, nor will I explore culpability of the cigarette corporations in any acts of deception perpetrated on the public. Others have far better addressed these issues, and more. I will, instead describe my experience of how this was accomplished, as well as the changes in our general culture in relation to this new point of view. Overall, it is a testament to the power for good, as well as bad, advertising and the media...
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