Torches of Freedom

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The 1929 "Torches of Freedom" public relations campaign equated smoking in public with female emancipation. Some women had been smoking decades earlier, but usually in private; this 1890s satirical cartoon from Germany illustrates the notion that smoking was considered unfeminine by some in that period. Kvinde-emancipation.gif
The 1929 "Torches of Freedom" public relations campaign equated smoking in public with female emancipation. Some women had been smoking decades earlier, but usually in private; this 1890s satirical cartoon from Germany illustrates the notion that smoking was considered unfeminine by some in that period.

"Torches of Freedom" was a phrase used to encourage women's smoking by exploiting women's aspirations for a better life during the early twentieth century first-wave feminism in the United States. Cigarettes were described as symbols of emancipation and equality with men. The term was first used by psychoanalyst A. A. Brill when describing the natural desire for women to smoke and was used by Edward Bernays to encourage women to smoke in public despite social taboos. Bernays hired women to march while smoking their "torches of freedom" in the Easter Sunday Parade of 1929, which was a significant moment for fighting social barriers for women smokers.

Contents

History

Smoking as an inappropriate act for women

Before the twentieth century smoking was seen as a habit that was corrupt and inappropriate for women. Dutch painters used cigarettes as a symbol of human foolishness in the 17th century and in the 19th century, cigarettes were perceived as props of “fallen women” and prostitutes. [1] Women's smoking was seen as immoral and some states tried to prevent women from smoking by enforcing laws. In 1904 a woman named Jennie Lasher was sentenced to thirty days in jail for putting her children's morals at risk by smoking in their presence and in 1908 the New York City Board of Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibited smoking by women in public. [2] Similarly in 1921 a bill was proposed to prohibit women from smoking in the District of Columbia. [1] Some women's groups also fought against women smoking. The International Tobacco League lobbied for filmmakers to refrain from putting women smoking cigarettes in movies unless the women being portrayed were of “discreditable” character and other women's groups asked young girls to sign pledges saying that they would not use tobacco. [3] These groups saw smoking as an immoral activity and a threat. Yet during World War I as women took the jobs of men who had gone to war, they also began smoking even though it was still considered a taboo act. [1] Cigarettes were a way for women to challenge social norms and fight for equal rights as men. Eventually for women the cigarette came to symbolize “rebellious independence, glamour, seduction and sexual allure for both feminists and flappers.” [3]

Advertising to women

1900 cigarette ad; targeting women is not a new strategy Cigarette ad cyclist 1900.jpg
1900 cigarette ad; targeting women is not a new strategy
A 1914 ad targeting women. Tobacco companies have long targeted the female market, seeing it as a potential growth area. Erdt Illu1914 Batschari.jpg
A 1914 ad targeting women. Tobacco companies have long targeted the female market, seeing it as a potential growth area.

Cigarette companies began selectively advertising to women in the late 1920s.[ dubious ] In 1928 George Washington Hill, the president of the American Tobacco Company, realized the potential market that could be found in women and said, “It will be like opening a gold mine right in our front yard.” Yet some women who were already smoking were seen as smoking incorrectly. In 1919 a hotel manager said that women “don’t really know what to do with the smoke. Neither do they know how to hold their cigarettes properly. Actually they make a mess of the whole performance.” [1] Tobacco companies had to make sure that women would not be ridiculed for using cigarettes in public and Philip Morris even sponsored a lecture series that taught women the art of smoking. [1]

To expand the number of women smokers Hill decided to hire Edward Bernays, who today is known as the father of public relations, to help him recruit women smokers. Bernays decided to attempt to eliminate the social taboo against women smoking in public. He gained advice from psychoanalyst A. A. Brill, who stated that it was normal for women to smoke because of oral fixation and said, “Today the emancipation of women has suppressed many of their feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do. Many women bear no children; those who do bear have fewer children. Feminine traits are masked. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom.” [5] In 1929 Bernays decided to pay women to smoke their “torches of freedom” as they walked in the Easter Sunday Parade in New York. This was a shock because until that time, women were only permitted to smoke in certain places such as in the privacy of their own homes. He was very careful when picking women to march because “while they should be good looking, they should not look too model-y” and he hired his own photographers to make sure that good pictures were taken and then published around the world. [5] Feminist Ruth Hale also called for women to join in the march saying, “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!” [5] Once the footage was released, the campaign was being talked about everywhere, the women's walk was seen as a protest for equality and sparked discussion throughout the nation and is still known today. The targeting of women in tobacco advertising led to higher rates of smoking among women. In 1923 women only purchased 5% of cigarettes sold, in 1929 that percentage increased to 12%, in 1935 to 18.1%, peaking in 1965 at 33.3%, and remaining at this level until 1977. [6]

1990s resurgence

The "Torches of Freedom" idea saw a resurgence in the 1990s far beyond the borders of America, where tobacco advertising was now becoming increasingly restricted. Woman smoking a cigarette.jpg
The "Torches of Freedom" idea saw a resurgence in the 1990s far beyond the borders of America, where tobacco advertising was now becoming increasingly restricted.

In the 1990s, tobacco companies continued to advertise cigarettes as “torches of freedom” as they sought to expand their markets around the world. Such brands as Virginia Slims continued to put forward the idea of modernity and freedom in new markets. The use of this imagery when advertising the cigarette has been specifically targeted at women in countries where women are gaining more equality and liberation.

The images used in the advertising campaigns differ by region. In Spain they use images of women in masculine jobs, such as a fighter pilot, to appeal to young women—and the smoking rates among young women in Spain increased from 17% in 1978 to 27% in 1997. [1] Tobacco companies are also using the cigarette as an image of emancipation in eastern and central Europe where cigarettes are shown as symbols of Western freedom. [1] In the 1990s Germany was a focus for advertising, and between 1993 and 1997 the smoking rates among women aged 12–25 in Germany went from 27% to 47% even though the increase in men's smoking for the same age group is much smaller. [1] In Japan, various cigarettes advertised to women have encouraged women to be unique. A survey by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare showed that between 1986 and 1999 smoking among women had increased from 10.5% to 23.2%. [1] Advertisements in South Africa have shown women crossing racial barriers as black women are shown accepting cigarettes from white men and in India women have been portrayed in Western clothes with cigarettes as a sign of liberation and upward mobility. [1] In Asia it is becoming more acceptable for women to smoke and this is leading to a greater demand. [2] Tobacco companies advertise to women around the world, showing cigarettes as symbols of upward mobility, gender equality and freedom. The impacts of tobacco companies targeting women can be seen by the increase in the number of women who started smoking in recent years.

See also

Related Research Articles

Edward Bernays American public relations consultant, marketing pioneer

Edward Louis Bernays was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations". Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life. He was the subject of a full length biography by Larry Tye called The Father of Spin (1999) and later an award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC by Adam Curtis called The Century of the Self.

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Nicotine marketing

Nicotine marketing is the marketing of nicotine-containing products or use. Traditionally, the tobacco industry markets cigarette smoking, but it is increasingly marketing other products, such as electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn products. Products are marketed through social media, stealth marketing, mass media, and sponsorship. Expenditures on nicotine marketing are in the tens of billions a year; in the US alone, spending was over US$1 million per hour in 2016; in 2003, per-capita marketing spending was $290 per adult smoker, or $45 per inhabitant. Nicotine marketing is increasingly regulated; some forms of nicotine advertising are banned in many countries. The World Health Organization recommends a complete tobacco advertising ban.

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Smoking Practice of inhaling a burnt substance for psychoactive effects

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Anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany

In the early 20th century, German researchers made advances in linking smoking to health harms, which strengthened the anti-tobacco movement in the Weimar Republic and led to a state-supported anti-smoking campaign. Early anti-tobacco movements grew in many nations from the middle of the 19th century. The 1933–1945 anti-tobacco campaigns in Nazi Germany have been widely publicized, although stronger laws than those passed in Germany were passed in some American states, the UK, and elsewhere between 1890 and 1930. After 1941, anti-tobacco campaigns were restricted by the Nazi government.

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Women and smoking

With gender-targeted marketing, including packaging and slogans, and promotion of women smoking in movies and popular TV shows, the tobacco industry was able to increase the percent of women smoking. In the 1980s, tobacco industries were made to have the surgeon general's warning printed on each packaging of the tobacco products. This slowed the rate of women smoking but later slightly increased after the advertisements started to look more present day and more appealing packaging, that appealed to the younger generation. In more recent times, cigarette smoking has been banned from public places and will continue to help decrease smoking rates in the United States. Cigarette smoking has serious health effects.

The majority of lifelong smokers begin smoking habits before the age of 24, which makes the college years a critical time for tobacco companies to convince college students to pick up the habit of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking in college is seen as a social activity by those who partake in it, and more than half of the students that are users do not consider themselves smokers. This may be because most college students plan to quit smoking by the time that they graduate.

Tobacco and art

Depictions of tobacco smoking in art date back at least to the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, where smoking had religious significance. The motif occurred frequently in painting of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age, in which people of lower social class were often shown smoking pipes. In European art of the 18th and 19th centuries, the social location of people – largely men – shown as smoking tended to vary, but the stigma attached to women who adopted the habit was reflected in some artworks. Art of the 20th century often used the cigar as a status symbol, and parodied images from tobacco advertising, especially of women. Developing health concerns around tobacco smoking also influenced its artistic representation. Recently tobacco has impacted on art in a quite different way, with the conversion of many cigarette vending machines into Art-o-mat outlets, selling miniature artworks the shape and size of a cigarette packet.

Cigarette smoking for weight loss

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Smoking in Syria

Smoking in Syria is steadily increasing in popularity amongst the Syrian population, mainly in the forms of cigarettes or narghiles. In Syria, the General Organization of Tobacco manages the growth and exportation of tobacco products. Syrians collectively spend about $600 million per year on tobacco consumption. As of 2010, 20% of women and 60% of men smoke and 98% of the overall population is affected by passive smoking. Narghiles and cigarettes are the two main forms of tobacco consumption. Despite the assumption that smoking, specifically the narghile, is embedded in Syrian culture, this phenomenon has only recently become widespread. Health officials are currently working on smoking cessation programs and policies, to remove this idea that smoking in Syria is an essential part of the culture, to educate regarding health effects, and to prevent citizens from smoking in public places.

Smoking in Egypt

The use of tobacco products in Egypt is widespread. It is estimated that approximately twenty percent of the population uses tobacco products daily. Cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco consumption in Egypt, with an estimated twenty billion cigarettes smoked annually in the country. After cigarettes, shisha water-pipes are the most common form of tobacco consumption. Many Egyptians are not fully aware of the health risks of using a water-pipe and many believe it to be less harmful than cigarettes.

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Smoking in North Korea overview about smoking in North Korea

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Smoking in Iraq

Smoking in Iraq is a widespread and culturally accepted behavior in Iraqi society. Since 2003 however there has been a greater push from the government to impose stricter rules. Since 2009 it is illegal to smoke in or around public buildings, although the ban remains unpopular with the Iraqi public and enforcement is inconsistent.

History of nicotine marketing

The history of nicotine marketing stretches back centuries. Nicotine marketing has continually developed new techniques in response to historical circumstances, societal and technological change, and regulation. Countermarketing has also changed, in both message and commoness, over the decades, often in response to pro-nicotine marketing.

Electronic cigarettes are marketed to smoking and non-smoking men, women, and children as being safer than traditional cigarettes. E-cigarette businesses have considerably accelerated their marketing spending. All of the large tobacco businesses are engaging in the marketing of e-cigarettes. For the majority of the large tobacco businesses these products are quickly becoming a substantial part of the total advertising spending. E-cigarette businesses have a vested interest in maximizing the number of long-term product users. The entrance of traditional transnational tobacco businesses in the marketing of such products is a serious threat to restricting tobacco use. E-cigarette businesses have been using intensive marketing strategies like those used to publicize traditional cigarettes in the 1950s and 1960s. While advertising of tobacco products is banned in most countries, television and radio e-cigarette advertising in several countries may be indirectly encouraging traditional cigarette use.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Amos, Amanda, and Margaretha Haglund. "From Social Taboo to "Torch of Freedom": the Marketing of Cigarettes to Women ." Tobacco Control 9.1 (2000). Web. 28 Apr 2010.
  2. 1 2 Brandt, Allan M. (2007). The Cigarette Century. New York: Basic Books, page 57.
  3. 1 2 Brandt, Allen M. “Recruiting Women Smokers: the Engineering of Consent.” Journal of the American Medical Women's Association 51.1-2 (1996). Web. 28 Apr 2010.
  4. Statement: Surgeon General's Report on Women and Tobacco Underscores Need for Congress to Grant FDA Authority Over Tobacco (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids) Archived 2005-02-05 at the Wayback Machine . Tobaccofreekids.org.
  5. 1 2 3 Brandt, Allan M. (2007). The Cigarette Century. New York: Basic Books, pp. 84-85.
  6. O'Keefe, Anne Marie; Pollay, Richard W. (1996). "Deadly Targeting of Women in Promoting Cigarettes". Journal of the American Medical Women's Association. 51 (1–2). PMID   8868553.