As we are all aware, the product of a thin
looking cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking, also known
as a cancer stick and go by the name cigarettes are a magnificent cultural
artifact in the United States. Cigarettes have definitely changed over the
course of a century. From the simple, paper rolling tobacco, to productized
cigarettes, to vapor products, we are able to see that the “cigarette” has
changed. Although it has changed physically, has it really changed in the eyes
of Americans?  Many consider vapor
products just as harmful as cigarettes considering that the cigarette produces
many harmful effects on the human body alone. Throughout the years, tobacco and
tobacco products have played a huge role in the lives of Americans and there
has been significant social and political events that have greatly contributed
to the rise and fall of cigarette usage. From newspapers to television
commercials, cigarettes are promoted everywhere. The idea of cigarettes being
“sexy” was something that was culturally attractive to the population do the idea
that it seemed more laidback. Cigarettes actually shadowed and hindered away
the deadly and health concerning effects that cigarettes have on the human
body. Over the period of one hundred years, we are able to see the several
different ways that cigarettes have transformed. Nowadays, there are several
vapor products and “E-cigs,” which are considered to have an effect on
cigarettes causing a fall in cigarette usage due to the fact that many people are
looking to quit use these products. Many Americans have been exposed to cigarettes
whether you take a puff by your choice, a loved one smokes, through peer
pressure, or even second hand smoke. This artifact has definitely changed over time
and certainly has an effect on Americans and their daily lives. Cigarettes have
been advertised through advertisements and are part daily lives of Americans
because of the cultural perception of cigarettes being viewed “cool”, “sexy”
“harmful” and a “successful product”.            Tobacco
was discovered since the late 1400s and impacted the United States from its
creation in terms of financing wars and its mass production of commercialized
cigarettes and even chewing tobacco “dip.” Young in his book, Story
of The Cigarette, explains that “of all things American nothing
is more so than the cigarette. It was from the New World that tobacco came to
attention of the civilized nations, the first account being a remarkable
exploration” (Young 4). Europeans were first introduced to tobacco when
Christopher Columbus and a group of men were given tobacco leaves by natives in
1492. From then to 1612, in Jamestown, Virginia, the first successful tobacco
crop was grown and in seven years, tobacco had been known as the most
successful and profitable export for the colonies (Young). In addition, during the
first Thanksgiving all men gathered around the table feasting away and they
also took the time to admire this successful tobacco crop. Many years later in
1775 to 1861, during the Revolutionary and Civil War period, tobacco began to
play a huge role in which it aided as security especially in the loans which
were borrowed by France. In addition, federal tobacco tax was established, assisting
in financing the Civil War. The tobacco industry sought great advancements from
this point on and the industry increased the quantity of tobacco that was
consumed by Americans. Philips Morris Bran was created in 1847 in which
Marlboro was one of their brands and by 1875 tobacco companies began to produce
and sell chewing tobacco. Marlboro cigarettes were advertised with a cowboy on
the back of a horse and what is more American than that? This influenced the
American cultural perception in the way that a key figure, a “cowboy” was being
shown smoking and enjoying cigarettes and so this made it seem “cool” and
“laidback” and simply just a lifestyle for Americans. This showed that
cigarettes were manly and considered tough for men, it gave them a sense of
power. Howard Cox in his book, The Global
Cigarette: Origins and Evolution of British American Tobacco, states
that “The evolution of the international cigarette manufacturing industry
before the Second World War occurred in four broad phases. From around 1880 to
1902 the industry witnessed an initial competitive period which was marked by a
shift from hand-rolled to machine-made products, and from export-led growth to
one based increasingly on foreign direct investment” (Cox 4).  James Bonsac in 1884 received the patent for
the first cigarette-rolling machine and so cigarette mass production began to
initiate becoming much more available and less costly for Americans (Cox). The
cultural perception at this point in time was that tobacco was a successful
crop that could be used to really help people and could be mass produced for
further industry purposes. Cigarettes were viewed as a “successful product”
because they provided Americans with this idea of mass production which helped
them advance in industry, gain money and become more efficient in the start of business.
            In
the 20th century, tobacco evolved and became dominant in the United
States. Tobacco began to dominate the American economy as well as pop culture
in the early 20th century, however during the mid 20th
century, public opinion began to change from a positive to negative aspect. In
1918, American troops that returned home from WWI began to become addicted
because cigarettes became a part of the soldier’s ration during war-time. Randall
in her article, “The History of Tobacco” includes that “The use of cigarette
exploded during World War I (1914-1918), where cigarettes were called the
soldier’s smoke” (Randall). By the time of WWII, women had more freedom and so
they began to smoke while men were fighting at war. Randall also explains that During
World War II (1939-1945), cigarette sales were at an all time high. Cigarettes
were included in a soldier’s C-Rations (like food!). “During World War II and
until 1976 a mini-pack of either three or four Old Gold, Chesterfield, Lucky
Strike, or Camel cigarettes, along with a fold of waterproof paper matches, was
included in the rations issued to our fighting troops” (The Army Historical
Foundation). Tobacco companies sent millions of cigarettes to the soldiers for
free, and when these soldiers came home, the companies had a steady stream of
loyal customers. During the 1920s, American tobacco companies began to promote
cigarettes to college students by running advertisements in newspapers as well
as on-campus promotions and especially at student and athletic events.
Advertisement has only seemed to enhance at this point on. From newspapers to
television commercials, cigarettes were being promoted everywhere (The Army
Historical Foundation). After WWII, the cultural perception of tobacco
tremendously went from positive to negative because research began to prove
that tobacco does have a harmful effect on the human body.  Because of this, tobacco companies needed to
make a change in their product and so they created filtered cigarettes with low
tarter which in the eyes of the public were much healthier and so the rise of
cigarette sales and consumption sprung once again.  Around the 1960s the public became more and
more aware of what they were putting in their bodies (Randall). This was
influenced though cigarette labeling, a ban on advertisements, smoking being
banned on flights, and even an age restriction.            First
hand cigarette smoking has definitely caused many smokers to have long-term
health conditions and resulting in the inability to quit due to the addictive
effects tobacco has. Many smokers smoke at early ages revolving around a social
stigma applied to tobacco with their environment. This social stigma is
considered as cigarettes make you cool, make you fit in and that they can quit
whenever they want with no long term effects. Cigarettes include over 7,000 chemicals of Nicotine which
is a huge component to the cigarette’s addictiveness due to its powerful
withdrawal effects. Secondhand smoke can be a bit worse than first hand smoke
an in some ways it is more dangerous. Secondhand smoke particles are much
smaller than the first hand smoke particles in which they usually reach the
bloodstream much quicker and easier. Secondhand smoke is proven to be the
leading cause of getting adolescents to begin smoking as they watch their
friends and idols smoke they get the idea or they are peer pressured. The
cultural perception regarding responsibility of smoking has shifted before
vapor products became a hit. The American population’s cultural perception has
definitely changed in the way that people were looking for different ways to
give off this “sexy” effect of smoking without causing health harm to their
bodies. The idea of cigarettes being “sexy” simply revolves around the fact
that it is an attraction to watch smoke come out of someone’s mouth. It is
appealing to see this idea of blowing out this smoke instead of just breathing
out air and so this began to become an attraction to many and even is
considered one today.             Tobacco
is not as powerful today as it was in American history, however it is still
relevant in the 21st century and is continuously evolving with the
present day consumer. The FDA describes “Vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah
pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or ecigs), and e-pipes as some of the
many terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (E.N.D.S.).” Farsalinos
et al. in their article, “Analytical Assessment of e-Cigarettes: from Contents
to Chemical and Particle Exposure Profiles” address that “e-Cigarettes
represent alternative-to-smoking products which produce a visible aerosol that
the user inhales. They simulate the psychobehavioral aspects of smoking
dependence and deliver the chemical component of the smoking dependence,
nicotine” (Farsalinos et al.). Today, there are new policies that are still
being passed against the tobacco industry. Smoking began to be banned in public
areas such as schools, recreation centers, etc. With the decline of the
traditional cigarette products, the rise of e-cigarettes’ emerged and the
e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market in 2007 (Farsalinos et al.). These e-cigarettes
are devices that heat a liquid which is usually nicotine based with a flavoring
that the user inhales (FDA). These e-cigarettes have begun to have an impact on
young adults and teens in the recent years. Nowadays you see adults and teens
“puffing” on these vapes, “blowing clouds” and some are getting the same “rush”
as they would by smoking a cigarette. These products target people who want to
quit smoking and strongly target young adults, since the “vapor” seems cool or
even “sexy” (Farsalinos et al.). The cultural perception has changed in ways of
cigarettes being perceived as dirty. Now with the creation of vapes, people are
able to still feel that “sexy” effect of smoking a cigarette without actually
smoking one. Instead, this idea of inhaling something other than air and not
“dirty” has developed allowing people to use the same oral product and feel and
show this sexiness and are not causing as much health harm to their bodies.             As cigarettes changed throughout a
century, so did cigarette advertisements. Currently, tobacco advertising is one
of the most regulated forms of marketing in the United States. In 1789, the
first tobacco advertisement in the United States was published in the New York
Daily Paper by P. Lorillard and Company. The advertisements simply promoted
cigarettes in a positive way and did not state anything negative about them.
Some advertisements would promote cigarettes as having double the quantity for
the same price. The advertisements were created with big text to draw attention
to the viewer and would say “YOU CAN GET TWO FOR JUST THE PRICE OF ONE or DOUBLE
THE QUANTITY REDUCE THE PRICE.” The cultural perception definitely began to
change through advertisements. The fact that these advertisements were actually
encouraging people to buy cigarettes made the population believe it was ok to
buy and smoke them. Advertisements utilized many attracting aspects, and used
famous public figures, cartoons and revolved their ads around a fun and
exciting aspect in order to show people that cigarettes should be bought and
smoked. As WWII came around, cigarette advertisements began to hit the radio
and the television in America. They were now showing Bugs Bunny at the end of
the show smoking a cigarette. At this time, it was considered “ok” for
cigarettes to be advertised that way because it was a part of this social norm
that everyone smokes and so it should be advertised positively. People viewed
this as “hey, if Bugs Bunny can smoke a cigarette on television, well then I
can smoke a cigarette too.” Stine, in his article, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: 20th Century Tobacco Advertisements”
states that “Tobacco marketers featured healthy, vigorous, fun-loving people in
their ads. Often these were celebrity figures from sports and entertainment
fields, other times they featured actors portraying physicians, dentists, or
scientists. Some ads tapped into concerns about weight gain; some portrayed the
middle-class comforts of home, holiday, recreation, or family pets.” The idea
of cigarettes being “sexy” changed slightly through advertisements. The
cultural perception shifted from sexiness to “enthusiasm,” “excitement” and
even this idea of being “laidback” and “chill,” where ads were part of the
social norm and used people and characters to really encourage the population
to smoke and buy cigarettes. The cultural perception began to change in
1971, when Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act which banned
all tobacco advertisement through television and the radio. In addition, in
1884, the Congress passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act
which forced cigarette boxes to be labeled with the surgeons general warning on
the box. Now that advertisements have gotten stricter the cultural perception
changed in the way that cigarettes were no longer being viewed as “sexy” and
“fun.” Instead, they were viewed as dangerous and harmful and by cigarette
advertisements pushing for this statement of cigarettes being viewed as
dangerous, the population began to be convinced that cigarettes do truly cause
harmful health effects. In 1999, all cigarette advertisement billboards in America
were forced to switch to anti-cigarette ads containing cigarette ad parodies
and comical slogans which poked the cigarette companies. Lastly, in 2010, the
most recent act to be passed against tobacco advertisement was The Family
Smoking and Tobacco Control Act. This act banned tobacco companies from
sponsoring sports teams, music, and other cultural events and they banned them
from putting their logos and slogans on any apparel. Today, the United States
even has restrictions on Tobacco in motion pictures. In addition, tobacco
companies are not even arguing with the heath warning labels anymore. Hiilam et
al. in their article, “The Evolution of
Health Warning Labels on Cigarette Packs: The Role of Precedents, and Tobacco
Industry Strategies to Block Diffusion” state that, “Health warning
labels, especially labels with graphic elements, threaten the tobacco industry
because they are a low-cost, effective measure to reduce smoking. Multinational
tobacco companies did not object to voluntary innocuous warnings with ambiguous
health messages, in part because they saw them as offering protection from
lawsuits and local packaging regulations” (Hiilam et al.)

            Tobacco
has definitely changed throughout United States history in regards to policies,
economics, pop culture and mostly the fact that tobacco has continued to impact
us today and its deep influence has a strong affect on the United States. From
smoking traditional cigarettes, to chewing tobacco, to vaping, the idea of a
“cigarette” has been around for quiet awhile and no matter the harmful effects
it has on the human body, it will continue to be around for the generations to
come.  As of 2015, an estimation of about
36.5 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. 36.5 million adults
smoke cigarettes, out of those adults an ample portion of them experience the
harmful effects of cigarettes and are dying due to its deadly effects and so if
cigarettes continue to be around for many generations these numbers well just
continue to increase. After decades of lawsuits, public campaigns and painful
struggles, Americans have finally done what once seemed impossible. Most of the
country has quit smoking, saving millions of lives and leading to massive
reductions in cancer. Hidden among the steady declines in recent years is the
stark reality that cigarettes are becoming a habit of the poor. The national
smoking rate has fallen to historic lows, with just 15?percent of adults still
smoking. But the socioeconomic gap has never been bigger. Today, rural
residents are diagnosed with lung cancer at rates 18 to 20 percent above those
of city dwellers. By nearly every statistical measure, researchers say,
America’s lower class now smokes more and dies more from cigarettes than other
Americans. This widening gap between classes carries huge health implications
and is already reshaping the country’s battle over tobacco control. The
cultural perception throughout the years has changed from cigarettes being cool
and sexy and giving off the idea of being laidback to cigarettes actually being
concerning due to their health concerning side effects. Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the
world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

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