1941 – 1959 Circle the Wagons

1941: World War II

The cigarette habit exploded again during WW II with the inclusion of cigarettes in GI rations, the distribution of free cigarettes to VA hospitals and patriotic marketing themes.

1942: Billboards

The Camel Man Billboard displayed in Time Square, captivated many visitors, while sending perfect smoke rings in to the New York sky.

Movie Marketing

In the Golden Age of Hollywood, movie theaters were crucial venues for tobacco advertisements. Philip Morris utilized a midget page boy, Johnny Roventini, whose “Call for Philip Morreees” was an industry icon for a quarter of a century.
Movie stars were highly influential as smoking role models. The America Tobacco Company sent free cartons of Lucky Strikes to entice stars like Humphrey Bogart to smoke and show the Lucky Strike package on the big screen, as in the 1942 movie “Casablanca.”

1950: Accelerated Marketing with Health Claims

Cigarette companies used health themes in many of their advertisements.

1954: Tobacco Industry Denies Health Risks

Frank Statement to Smokers was published in over 400 newspapers in January 1954.  The companies made three pledges to reassure smokers that they were tracking the emerging evidence linking smoking and cancer.
  •     “We accept an interest in people’s health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business.
  •   We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.
  •   We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health.”

Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC)

The Tobacco Industry Research Committee (T.I.R.C.) was formed in January, 1954 as an independent entity to carefully study the claims that smoking caused disease. However, internal business records released decades later have revealed that it was set up as PR gesture to assure the public the companies were serious about the smoking and health issue and not as a serious effort to find out the truth about smoking and cancer.

1955: Filter and Tar Wars

The sale of filter tip cigarettes skyrocketed in the 1950s.  By naming their filters with pseudo technological and comforting phrases such as: Selectrate, Micronite, Dual Filter and Miracle Tip, the companies were selling more than cigarettes, they were selling the assurance of safety.
Filtering tar and nicotine from the smoke became an industry fetish.  In spite of the fact there was no standard protocol for measuring cigarette yield until the 1967 F.T.C. Report each company touted its filter brands as the best.

1957: Tobacco Industry Rebukes Medical Publications

Every time the medical sciences published any new finding on the link between cigarettes and disease,the Tobacco Industry responded with all the public relations vigor it could muster.
  •   Hartnett says statistics do not establish causes. June 4, 1957
“The T.I.R.C. still shares the widely-held position that the basic origins of cancer and heart disease will eventually be learned by careful laboratory and clinical study, not through statistical reports that are subject to differing interpretations from the innumerable variables involved.”
  •   T.I.R.C. Cites Differing Views On Cancer Question June 27, 1957  “The conclusions reached by the British Medical Research Council represent opinions about a theory of cause and effect not confirmed by scientific experiments and widely challenged in the world of science.”
  •   Hartnett Cites Scientists Doubting Smoking-Cancer Theory.  July 12, 1957
“Actually, in recent years many doctors and scientists have publicly expressed their doubts or disbelief in the theory that smoking causes lung cancer.  Their statements, usually made in medical and scientific journals, were non-sensational in nature and therefore have been generally overlooked by much of the press and public.”
  •   Tobacco Institute head questions smoking conclusions November 27, 1959
“It is difficult to understand how Dr. Burney can review so much of the evidence, so clearly admit the lack of laboratory or scientific evidence to support the time-worn much-criticized statistical charges against smoking, and yet come up with such extreme and unwarranted conclusions. [He] has performed a real disservice, not just to 65 million smokers and the millions of Americans engaged in the tobacco business in one way or the other, but to the public as a whole.”

1958: Tobacco Institute

In 1957 Ed Darr, President of RJR, writes to Paul Hahn President of American Tobacco that the TIRC has been an effective “defensive operation,” but going forward they need to establish an organization to speak on behalf of the industry with a unified voice. The Tobacco Institute was formed a few months later in 1958. The TI and CTR were both disbanded in 1998, as a condition of the Master Settlement Agreement among the States and the cigarette companies. In their entire history, neither of these organizations ever admitted that smoking causes cancer.

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