What Those Funny Old Smoking Ads Really Show
Hey, if my doc smokes 'em...
It’s easy to laugh at cigarette ads from the golden age of American smoking—say, from the flapper–ish 1920s through the cool Mad Menera of the early sixties. The images of doctors and “scientists” reassuring smokers seems to hail from a naive, optimistic time when a pack-a-day habit’s worst consequence was an irritated throat.
But the real message is a bit different, according to Robert N. Proctor, PhD, a Stanford University history of medicine professor who is writing a book, titled The Golden Holocaust, about the global health costs of tobacco. The persistence of cigarette ads with health claims reflected a widespread, though low-level, public concern that tobacco was, in fact, doing harm.
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