Cigarettes As a Symbol of Women’s Independence

Published on November 4th, 2013 00:00
Cigarettes Women Independence

Since those times when women started smoking in America, the tobacco industry has attempted to represent cigarettes as a symbol of women's freedom and independence.

Men have been using tobacco for hundreds of years. But already in the 20th century, the habit was viewed as unladylike and even wrong for ladies. After that in 1929 - when cigarette consumption by women was unlawful in numerous cities - the tobacco industry sent about 12 models in an Easter Parade of suffragists in New York. They named their cigarettes "torches of freedom." The communication to women was: smoking is liberty.

The industry also started to promote a different message: "Be thin. Reach for a Lucky instead of a candy. It displayed stunning thin women in the foreground," states Virginia Ernster, associate manager of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California at San Francisco. "In the background, a rather fat shadow with a double chin or fat ankle, saying if you didn't light up, you might become fat."

By 1960s, Phillip Morris married the information when it launched Virginia Slims cigarettes; a thin smoking product advertised using a slogan "You've Come a Long Way, Baby" appeared to the new women's rights movement. In the four years that followed the launch of Virginia Slims, cigarette sales to ladies boosted to approximately 110 %. "They have been successful in representing tobacco as entirely crucial for independence, sexual and social achievements," states Matthew Meyers, manager of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The industry directed millions of dollars into commercials in women's journals. Some challenges would highlight 20 cigarette advertisements or more. The tobacco industry's marketing dollars increased questions about the magazines' editorial policy when it comes to tobacco consumption. "The American Council on Science and Health, during the last 20 years has been evaluating women's magazines as to how they inform about the hazards of smoking," states Elizabeth Whelan, the council's leader. "The simplest thing I can claim is they don't report in anyway."

These days, the industry promotes similar messages it has for many years. Thin cigarettes like Kiss and Glamour are attractive and feminine. Cigarettes in the hands of beautiful models encourage independence and perhaps a bit of danger: the main idea it is good to be a little bad.

By Joanna Johnson, Staff Writer.
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