Tobacco bowdlerization

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Tobacco bowdlerization occurs when a publisher or government agency expurgates a photograph, text, or video document to remove images and references to consuming tobacco products. It often occurs in conjunction with traditional restrictions on tobacco advertising, and is most commonly seen on works that are aimed at children.


Famous instances

Suspected instance

Criticism and defense

Some historians and artists have criticized the process. When speaking of the Jackson Pollock US stamps, New York University professor Todd Gitlin compared the censorship to that used by communist regimes, saying "The communists used to airbrush inconvenient persons from photographs. Americans are airbrushing signs of inconvenient sins." Thank You for Smoking author Christopher Buckley also criticized the practice, claiming that the government was "tampering with cultural DNA". [14]

Others argue that the process is necessary to counteract the overt product placement and influence that the tobacco industry had in broadcasting circles. In 1998, in early hearings for the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, it was divulged that large tobacco companies including R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris had actively spent over US$1 billion US between 1972 and 1991 to get cigarettes in mainstream movies, and smoked by specific actors. The final settlement quotes the Institute of Medicine, who claim that these placements could be extremely effective on children.

[Tobacco] advertisements present images that appeal to children and youths and are seen and remembered by them. Concern has been expressed that while smoking may not have had an immediate effect on smoking uptake, they may increase susceptibility to smoking, which over time translates into behavior.

Institute of Medicine [15]

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