Smoking cigarettes have been determined to be responsible for the premature death of over 400,000 people each year in the United States. It has been described as the single most preventable disease today. This paper will cover a basic overview of the history of smoking, advertising, health findings, and legal liability realized from cigarette manufactures. The current trends and laws concerning the use of tobacco will also be addressed.
Most of us know that George Washington was America’s first President of the United States. This is common knowledge and still taught today in public schools. However, one of the more astonishing facts that is generally not discussed is that George Washington inherited an enormous tobacco plantation that was comprised of 10,000 acres of land as well as approximately 50 slaves who were transported to the Americas from Africa. Because of the rising prices of tobacco in the 1730’s, George Washington at the age of 21 was one of the wealthiest men in Virginia.
(Badertscher, 2005, p.2). Could this have been one of the first accounts that sociologist Karl Marx (1818-1883) assessed when formulating his theory of social conflict. In the example of George Washington and his tobacco plantation, capitalism and the alienation that it produced among its slaves, who were tirelessly working in the tobacco fields was rampant during that time and also making George Washington a very rich man. The popularity of smoking in the 1700’s would continue to grow for the next 200 years in the United States. Along with this path little if any regulation from our government would follow.
Because of the addictive qualities that are a part of the cigarette and its tobacco, our society would slowly and unknowingly become addicted. Many years would go by and by the beginning part of the twentieth century; cigarette manufacturers such as RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris were spending over 8 million dollars in advertising each year. By the 1920’s tobacco and cigarette consumption was taking hold in the United States. Cigarette smoking was not only common, but it was increasingly being more fashionable. Originally gender stratification provided that is was unbecoming or a private matter at best that woman would be cigarette smokers.
Yet in advertising, pretty woman were often used and eventually once tobacco giants realized that woman were also an enormous market share, their creativeness and opportunist as a capitalist took hold. During the 1920’s, Lucky Strike, a leader in striking tobacco claims finally went right after the female with no regard of gender bias. One of their famous campaign slogans, “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet” instantly played on the ability of a woman to stay thin by asserting the benefits of smoking a cigarette as an appetite suppressant.(Gardner, 2006, p.222-224). Unsubstantiated claims were common, by the 1940’s, an advertising agency by the name of , the William Esty Company worked exclusively for R.J Reynolds, here they developed their own surveys, often giving out free cartons of cigarettes to their newest spokespeople, doctors.
Here they employed a gallant tactic. Because of the fact that so many people smoked cigarettes, including doctors, the cigarette companies went for the most trusted people of that time. For the next 6 years, beginning in 1946, their memorable slogan would read, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette” They listed this as fact and claim to survey thousands of doctors, it would be discovered that these questionnaires would always include a free supply of cigarettes to the respondents. (Gardner, 2006, p. 224-225) By the beginning of 1950, the health concerns from smoking tobacco could no longer go unnoticed. Consequently, cigarette makers would stop picturing doctors in their advertisements, but next they would include the likes of celebrities, such as sports figures and movie stars.
In 1961, several groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association wrote President John F. Kennedy and asked that the United States Government take an active role in measuring the health consequences of using tobacco. Several years later in 1964, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service released the first report on tobacco smoking and related issues concerning a smoker’s health. The findings showed that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer in men, the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and a probable cause of cancer in woman. The Surgeon General also stipulated that every year a new report would be released. (Terry, 1964). Next, the United States Congress would enact the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and also the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969.
Cigarette makers would now be required to put a health warning on the side of a cigarette package, warning the users of its dangers. It also for the first time put certain restrictions on the types of advertising that cigarette manufactures could employ. (cite) As an example of sociological evolution, computer technology would allow for a vast amount of statistics to compile. During this same period, data was showing a huge number of premature deaths and exclusive illnesses directly related to tobacco users. Conversely, cigarette manufactures were able to more closely follow their target market. The television would eventually be eliminated as a method of advertising, however the magazine, radio, internet and United States Postal service would allow for a huge audience of smokers and future smokers to be reached.
Now fast forward to the 1990’s, and by 1998 the Center for disease control and prevention (CDC) the United States governments “official” fact finder determined by using a basic two question survey as their research method, that there were 47.2 million adult smokers which represented 24% of the population. During this same time period, from the years of 1995-1999, figures and estimates were showing that 440,000 people were dying prematurely each year due to smoking. Hospital and health care costs were skyrocketing. Liability was becoming a costly issue for the cigarette giants. (Leverett, 2002, p. 88). 13 states brought immense lawsuits against the cigarette manufactures and eventually won in a landmark settlement in 1998.
The settlement involved medical expenses incurred by smokers, insurance companies, workers compensation and Medicare costs. It would include payments to each of the 13 states until the year 2025 to the sum of 196 billion dollars.(Coller, 2002,p.984) Tobacco usage is by far not limited to the United States. To best explain its usage today is to reveal the number of deaths attributed to smoking on a worldwide level. World-wide each year over 5 million people will die from cigarette smoking and estimates that 10 million deaths per year is possible by the year 2025.
It is also estimated that if cigarette consumption continues matched with new emerging markets. That by 2030, one human being will die every four seconds from the negative effects of cigarette smoking. (Tomlinson, 1997, p. 3). Cigarette manufacturers are still entering new markets throughout the world today. As of 2010, Phillip Morris International has their product available for sale in 160 countries. In the near future, small developing countries such as, South Korea and Vietnam will also be captive to this epidemic situation and will eventually be included in dark future statistics.
Because of the extreme danger and liability concerns, secondhand smoke is now another area of contention. Secondhand smoke is defined as a mixture of side stream smoke from the end of a burning cigarette and exhaled mainstream smoke.(Jarvie, 2008,p. 2140) It has also been identified that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, respiratory tract injury, and heart disease.
Over 50 carcinogens have been recognized in secondhand smoke.(Malone, 2008, 2145) The American Lung Association has compiled an enormous data bank of information concerning the devastating statistics with tobacco use of American citizens. There are 443,000 deaths each year that are attributed to smoking tobacco. In 2004, it was determined that smoking cost the U.S. nearly 193 billion dollars. This included 96 billion dollars in health care costs and 97 billion dollars lost in productivity. This amounts to $4,260 per year, per adult smoker. (CDCP, 2004). It has been determined that cigarettes contain over 4,800 different chemicals and 69 of them are known to cause cancer. Chronic lung disease accounts for 73 percent of smoking related conditions. It has been determined that smokers die at a faster rate than non-smokers.
On average a smoker’s life is shortened by 13.2 years for an adult male and 14.5 years for an adult woman. (CDCP 2006). Statistics are meaningless when it comes to measuring the level of pain and discomfort that a person will experience by smoking regularly for a lengthy period of time. The list goes on for painful, serious diseases caused by smoking tobacco, as most smokers will not experience instant death. The diseases caused by smoking include; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this includes chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, coronary heart disease, stroke, abdominal acute aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, pneumonia, periodontitis, and bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach and pancreatic cancers. (Surgeon general 2004).
Workplaces throughout the United States are going smoke free to provide clean indoor air and protecting employees from life threatening effects of second hand smoke. Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. work force worked under a smoke free policy in 1999. (Gibson, 2001). Finally in June of 2009, 45 years after the 1964 Surgeon Generals first report on the hazards of cigarette smoking, President of the United States Barack Obama signed the Tobacco Control Act. This gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate and control tobacco. It does not give them the authority to ban cigarettes or remove nicotine all together.
They are still evaluating whether or not they will reduce the amounts of nicotine in cigarettes. They are also granted the power to regulate advertising and the promotion of tobacco in the United States, which to include the possibility of graphic pictures and labeling on the package of cigarettes. (FDA cite) Today 165 countries have signed on to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The treaty joins these countries to adopt current and future policies regarding and limiting the use of tobacco. As well as enforcing tighter control on advertising and packaging of tobacco. (Tynan, 2010, p3). As a result of the alarming numbers and data showing the ill effects of cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke, governments are starting to wake up and fight back at these large wealthy cigarette manufactures.
The Australian High Court has upheld one of the world’s toughest tobacco rules. Once again after lengthy court battles between the giant cigarette manufactures and the Australian government, new cigarette labeling laws has gone into effect at the time of this writing. Beginning December 2012, the court has paved the right for extreme restrictive cigarette package labeling to go into effect. Cigarette packs in Australia now must display graphic images of mouth cancer, diseased lungs and gangrenous limbs. In addition, brand logos are banned and these graphic images dominate the entire package. British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, and Philip Morris International had all argued that a ban on brand logos would infringe on their intellectual property rights.
The High Court of Australia rejected their argument. Now industry analysts feel that this may propel other countries to follow suit with this type of restrictive labeling. The ruling was welcomed by Australian officials, with hopes to drive cigarette sales down even further, coupled with the extremely high taxation already imposed on the sale of tobacco in Australia. Today smokers in Australia spend on average, $16.80 (us dollars) on one pack of cigarettes.
The new law will require health warnings to cover 75 percent of the front of the cigarette package and cover 90 percent of the back of the package. According to the Australian Cancer Council, as of 2010, smoking rates have declined, but still remain at 16.4 percent among adult men and 13.9 percent among adult women. In the U. S., the figures from the Center for Disease Control show the smoking rate to be 21.5 percent for adult men and 17.3 percent for adult women.(Siegal, 2012). Also this year in the Ukraine, all advertising including, television, radio, print, internet, coupons, even advertising on the counter at a point of sale is banned.
(Target, 2012,p1) While these two markets are comparably small in size, the message that is being sent to the cigarette manufacturer and to the world is enormous. By representing the best interest of the non-addicted citizen, governments are finally starting to stand up, take action and force the issue. It appears that these types of small countries are at least willing to interact and negotiate with the giant lobbyist’s that are so commonly found in giant governments like the United States of America. Finally in the United States, individual states are establishing smoking restrictions in public spaces and public buildings. Today over 70% of the United States population is represented by some type of smoking regulation in public spaces.
(cite) After many failed attempts at passing substantial legislation limiting the locations where cigarette smokers can smoke cigarettes, the state of Indiana in July of 2012 has enacted a new no smoking policy throughout the state in regard to public buildings. Smoking is now prohibited in all public spaces, including retail establishments and restaurants. Concessions had to be made to casino and bars as the state predicted tax revenue could drop nearly 190 million dollars per year by not allowing people to smoke here. While a major argument was for the betterment of workplace safety, last minute provisions were included to allow smoking in nursing homes and fraternal clubs located throughout the state. (cite in.gov) Constantly big tobacco companies are still grabbing headlines in today’s newspapers.
This past week on November 30, 2012, a federal judge has ordered tobacco companies to publish statements that require them to publicly admit that they had repeatedly lied to the public about the known dangers of smoking and that they disclose the known health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people per day. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler previously has said she wanted the cigarette industry to pay for corrective advertisements. But know the judge is laying out what she wants the cigarette giants to say. Each advertisement is to include a statement from the defendant tobacco companies that says, “Deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking.”
The required statements are to include,”That smoking kills more people than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined”. Also, “That secondhand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans each year.” These corrective statements are part of a case the government initiated in 1999. Judge Kessler ruled on that case in 2006 that the nation’s largest cigarette makers hid the dangers of smoking for decades from the public and that she wanted the smoking industry to pay for corrective advertising. The Justice Department proposed most of the legal wording and worked in conjunction with Judge Kessler. Kessler went on to write, “That all findings are based on factual evidence that was proven by a court of law”.
She goes to say, “The court has made a number of explicit findings that the tobacco companies perpetuated fraud and deceived the public regarding the addictiveness of cigarettes and nicotine. A spokesperson for the nation’s biggest tobacco company, Philip Morris USA, said they were studying the court’s decision and that they had no further comment. The unfortunate part of this story is that, the ending is not here. This case had begun in 1999 and nearly fourteen years later, the cigarette conglomerates are still managing to attempt to skirt these horrendous issues. Today there are many tools and opportunities to help a person stop smoking.
There are seven different medications approved by the FDA to help a person quit smoking. The nicotine patch, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges are available as over the counter medicine. A nasal spray and inhaler are available by prescription. Name brand prescription such as Zyban and Chantix are non-nicotine pills that can also be used to help stop smoking. A national help program, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, can be accessed anywhere in the United States and is a free program sponsored by individual states and the Department of Health and Human Services.
They offer new personal innovative tools to help individuals stop smoking, and include free counseling and free nicotine patches. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, which when inhaled reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously. Quitting smoking usually takes multiple attempts. If someone is serious about stopping smoking, here is a valuable service to extend those possibilities. We teach our children about the Presidency of the United States. It includes our first President George Washington, a story about a cherry tree, and a maybe even more propaganda, that he could not tell a lie.
Nowhere is there a mention of his greatest truth. He was one of our forefathers of tobacco. Then followed almost 300 years, mixed with another great giant of America, which is capitalism. What comes next is a society that is heavily addicted to cigarette smoking and unquestionably very sick from the dangers of over 4,800 chemicals that are comprised of the cigarette.
When people become addicted to something that is more powerful than them and unable to stop it from continuing, they then develop defense mechanisms that prevent themselves from seeing the truth. September 11, 2001 was a day where U.S. soil became a target of terrorist attacks, and a day that will never be forgotten. A sad remembered day when 2,996 people perished. In the next 12 months, there will be 443,000 more people who will die, this time from the negative effects of cigarette smoking. This is equivalent to the United States of America having an attack on United States soil every two and a half days, and counting.
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