On April 1, 1970, President Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law. Among other provisions, including requiring that cigarettes and cigarette ads bear the now-ubiquitous slogan “The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health,” the legislation prohibited the advertising of tobacco on television and radio–to take effect the day after the New Year’s Day college bowl games. On January 1, 1971, the last television advertisement for tobacco–for Virginia Slims–ran on NBC on The Johnny Carson Show.
This is not simply a story about government regulation of a dangerous product: tobacco companies also went along with the ban on their own ads. Why did they agree to do so? How has tobacco been marketed since? What are the ethical responsibilities of advertisers who promote smoking and other activities harmful to human health?
With our panelists, Anne Landman, Susan Smulyan, and Robert Newbert, we explore the legacies of the intersection of our favorite form of mass communication with our favorite bad habit.
Anne Landman is a tobacco document research specialist. She is currently Managing Editor at the Center for Media and Democracy.
Susan Smulyan is Associate Professor of American Civilization at Brown University. She is the author of Selling Radio: The Commercialization of American Broadcasting (1992). Professor Smulyan teaches courses in popular culture, advertising history, radio, digital scholarship, and American Studies methods.
Robert Newbert is CEO of Duffy & Shanley, Inc., a leading Providence-based advertising firm, and the former Chairman of the New England Council of the American Association of Ad Agencies. He is currently a Senior Advisor at the Garcia Lindsey Group and is active in many community and professional organizations.
- Smoke Signals; 100 Years of Tobacco Advertising by Judy Vaknin; Libri Publishing 2007
- Unfiltered; Conflicts over Tobacco Policy and Public Health by Eric Feldman and Ronald Bayer, eds.; Harvard University Press 2004
- The Cigarette Century; The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America by Allan Brandt; Basic Books 2009
- A Question of Intent; A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry by David Kessler; PublicAffairs 2002