JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 662
Abdullah Cigarettes has a twisted reliance with the recognition of the social equality of women and making money. Mostly it was making money. Someone there at Abdullah corporate figured out that there was an easy way of increasing their sales without spending huge amounts of money on market development—open their market interests to women. And in the case pictured here, from The Illustrated London News of 1929, the Abdullah people were making a direct appeal to the literal empowerment of women via the national right to vote. This came a little post facto, as women were given (?) the right in 1918*, though it seems that there were no ads reaching out to women in GB until 1926/7, voting rights or not.
There was very good money to be made with cigarettes, which were/are basically the non-kosher hot dogs (or worse) of the tobacco industry, the tobacco equivalent of the utilization of the pig’s squeal, the remnant of other products that was filled with profit. For the overwhelming part of the history of tobacco smoking by the Western world, the tobacco that was gathered and stuffed into a paper roll and smoked was the lowest form of utilizing the product, the vice of the poor. This degraded spectacle was soon morphed into an enormous social advantage and gigantic economic opportunity for the producers.
It wasn’t just Abdullah, of course; nor was Abdullah the first on the scene: that “honor” belongs to Helmar Cigarettes, which in 1919 posted an advertisement for a pack of its cigs buried in a sea of female faces. The tobacco companies didn’t embrace the notion of the growing recognition of women, but did follow it, taking advantage of the new and growing rights and their new marketability and giving everyone free access to the same deadly diseases. Exploitation of the emergence of the new social power was the key to making money for those companies.
In the U.S.
All of this worked very well: tobacco revenues in the U.S. went from $12 million in 1926 to $40 million in 1930, this based largely on the new female marketization, tempting women’s new economic and political power with the power of the cigarette, dressed in the fashion of subverting the power structure, just like flapper’s dress, bobbed hair and slacks.
Abdullah also blurred the age barrier for smokers by pushing their product with images of what seem to be ‘tweens, a move that expands the concept of nastiness. (It should be remembered that the baseball player Honus Wagner demanded that his picture be removed from the baseball cards distributed with Sweet Caporel cigarettes because he thought the tobacco company was trying to corrupt the young with it—the result was that his card is among the rarest and most expensive of all baseball cards.) I don’t think that there’s much room for negotiation in this image—it plainly is directed at the young. But of course it was all a nasty business, top to bottom—even the American Medical Association got into the act, publishing their first cigarette ad in their journals in 1933—a practice that would last to 1952. The cancer connections were there, but the lobby by the concerned national interests of the tobacco companies were fierce, and the first warning labels about the cigarette/cancer connection didn’t appear on packages of cigarettes until Surgeon General Jesse Steinfeld’s tenure in 1970.** (Fat and heart diseases kills more, but so do hospitals. Lee Iococa fought seatbelts in his cars for years, and on and on into the night goes this song.)
I wonder why there hasn’t been more recognition of the earlier history of lung cancer—particularly since it really doesn’t seem to exist in the 19th century and before. The disease only starts to show up in the 1920’s, after men had been smoking cigarettes for 20 years or so. The epidemic of lung cancer rose with the consumption of cigarette--it is of particular forensic interest to look at lung cancer rates among men and women from 1950-1980. These stats are a surprise to no one, the rate of cancer among women spiking in the 1950-1980 era, when their habits were mature from long use of the liberating agent. Cigarettes was just one of many ways in which women expressed their modernism—but is almost certainly the deadliest.
In the U.S. warnings on the side of the cigarette pack read as follows:
Caution: Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health (1966-1970)
Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health (1970-1985)
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy. (1985-)
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health. (1985-)
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight. (1985-)
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide. (1985-)
--This was more graphically explained by the Canadians on their cigarette packages:
CAUSE LUNG CANCER
85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking.
80% of lung cancer victims die within three years.
In France, in smokey spite of it all, the rear of packaging (covering 40% of the surface) included the following warnings:
Smokers die prematurely.
Smoking clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes.
Smoking causes fatal lung cancer.
Smoking during pregnancy harms your child's health.
Protect your children: don't make them breathe your smoke.
Your doctor or pharmacist can help you quit smoking.
Smoking is highly addictive, don't start.)
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of fatal heart and lung diseases.
Smoking can result in a slow and painful death.
Smoking can cause low blood pressure and impotence.
Smoking damages sperm and reduces fertility.
Cigarette smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.)
--Cigarette pack warnings in the United Kingdom.
In 1971, tobacco companies printed on the left side of cigarette packets "WARNING by H.M. Government, SMOKING CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH".
1991: "TOBACCO SERIOUSLY DAMAGES HEALTH" was printed on the front of all tobacco packs.
In 2003, new E.U regulations required one of the following general warnings must be displayed, covering at least 30% of the surface of the pack:
Smoking seriously harms you and others around you
Additionally, one of the following additional warnings must be displayed, covering at least 40% of the surface of the pack:
Smokers die younger
Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes
Smoking causes fatal lung cancer
Smoking when pregnant harms your baby
Protect children: don't make them breathe your smoke
Your doctor or your pharmacist can help you stop smoking
Smoking is highly addictive, don't start
Stopping smoking reduces the risk of fatal heart and lung diseases
Smoking can cause a slow and painful death
Smoking may reduce the blood flow and cause impotence
Smoking causes ageing of the skin
Smoking can damage the sperm and decreases fertility
Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide
From October 2008 all cigarette products manufactured now must carry picture warnings. Every pack must have one of these warnings by October 2009.