Wind of changes in cigarettes industries

 Winds of Change
The industry’s direct appeal to the new market
of female smokers likely reflected less boldness than
it did a recognition of a prevailing wind of cultural
change, of which the women’s movement was only a
single component. In the 1920s, on the heels of the
19th Amendment, women’s growing assertion of their
equality with men was part of a larger shift in American culture, the move to a more modern culture from
the somewhat puritanical milieu that supported the
populist reform movement. In the language of one
observer, the change was from a culture of middle-class
respectability to one of “lower-order parochialism”

 sponsored and encouraged by industries that catered
to the minor vices (Burnham 1993, p. 16). The 1920s
saw the triumph of “a new behavioral ethic” (Brandt
1990, p. 157), one of consumerism and self-indulgence
rather than the self-denial that had been, for example,
the traditional lot of women. Through the marketing
of cigarettes, the tobacco companies strategically exploited this development among the less puritanical
and self-recriminating members of both sexes.
Even at the time, opinion was divided on whether
the massive marketing efforts of the cigarette giants
motivated the change toward a society of smokers
or only took advantage of a cultural and behavioral
shift already under way. In 1940, by which time the
cigarette had clearly triumphed over other forms of
tobacco, one study of the tobacco industry concluded,
“how much of increased cigarette consumption is due
to advertising and how much to fashion is impossible
to determine. The latter influence is still imponderable” (Gottsegen 1940, p. 204).
Fashion and advertising were not the only two
factors. Three other matters were potentially important: (1) the physical product itself was not a constant,

) the price was variable, and (3) society changed in
ways that influenced consumption. For example,
before the explosion of cigarette marketing in 1914
(Burnham 1989), men smoked more than women, the
rich smoked more than the poor, and urban dwellers
smoked more than rural inhabitants. (For a more comprehensive account of the demographic dynamics, see
USDHHS 1989.) With growth in the movement for
women’s equality, a rising per capita income in real
dollars, and the long-term trend toward urbanization,
there would likely have been an increase in cigarette
sales even if tobacco companies had not marketed the
product aggressively.
Regardless of what directed the impetus, per
capita consumption of all forms of tobacco was remarkably steady from 1913 to 1945 (Figure 2.1), rising when
real income per capita rose, falling when real income
fell (Tennant 1950). The spectacular growth in cigarette consumption reflected not only the introduction
into the tobacco market of new consumer groups (such
as women) but also, as was previously noted, a major
shift among existing male smokers from other forms
of tobacco use to the cigarette. Annual per capita consumption of tobacco hovered at 7 pounds from 1915
through the late 1930s, except for a transient decline
in the early 1930s that was coincident with a drop in
per capita income in the early years of the Great Depression (Tennant 1950). It is possible, however, that
actual consumption of tobacco per unit of weight increased because of less work in both the manufacturing and the use of the increasingly popular cigarette.
World War II, like World War I, served to increase and
promote cigarette smoking, to which numerous war
novels, movies, and other public images testify (Klein
1993). A 1943 treatise observed that the cigarette
achieved a heroic standing from its association with
soldiers during World War II (Gehman 1943). In short,
between about 1920 and 1950, “cigarettes became an
acceptable and noncontroversial part of U.S. life”
(Troyer and Markle 1983, p. 124)

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