Analysis Of An American Tradition: Smoking

895 words - 4 pages

Hey, Wanna Smoke?You don’t always die from tobacco. Of former smokers in the US 1,743,000 people have emphysema from smoking Women who smoke increase their risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and SIDS. Of current smokers in the US 719,000 have had a heart attack from smoking. Cigarette smokers are 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. In the US 637,000 have had a stroke from smoking. Also 138,000 have lung cancer from smoking. But smoking is “cool” right? “Humphrey Bogart is cool. James Dean is cool. Smoking is Cool. Being thin is cool. Smoking cigarettes will make you thin”(Landesman 1). America, as a culture, has perceived smoking as a “cool” trend. Many “cool” people of the early days unashamedly smoked cigarettes so if you wanted to be cool you had to smoke too.In 1910 the United States was producing 10 Billion cigarettes a year. In 1930 that number jumped to 123 billion. What changed this? There were three main factors that influenced this increase in production. World War 1, dieting, and motion pictures all came about between 1910 and 1930. Cigarettes were rationed to soldiers in the war as a way to pass time and keep calm in times of desperation. Body image started to become a growing trend in the early 1900’s and more women turned to dieting because thin was in. Smoking cigarettes suppressed appetite thus bringing on the assumption that smoking cigarettes made you thin. Perhaps most influential of all was the impact of cigarettes in motion pictures. Directors looked for something for the actors to do while they were on screen that captured a sexier and bad-ass appeal. This tactic is most evident in the 1944 motion picture, To Have or Have Not, starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. In one part of the film Steve, played by Humphrey Bogart asks if anybody has a match. In walks the voluptuous and stunning Slim, played by Lauren Bacall, and flips him a matchbook. This is where the connection between being sexy or cool associates itself with smoking cigarettes. This scene put the sex back into cigarettes. Women could connect themselves with Slim and men could tie themselves with Steve. Until recently, smoking was considered to be the hip and in thing to do to make you seem cool. In these days anyone who smokes on screen is a psychopath or a European.One of the most influential and effective anti-smoking campaigns was put into works in 1997. This campaign counter acted the efforts of the “Big Tobacco” companies to target the youth of America and influence them to start smoking. This campaign now known as the “Truth” campaign was responsible for preventing about 300,000 youth from...

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