Monday, June 9, 2008

"What Cigarette Do You Smoke, Doctor?"

In the 1950s and 1960s, advertisements for cigarettes were everywhere. The immense amount of advertising was made possible by a booming tobacco industry, minimal governmental intervention, and a general public unaware of the long-term consequences of cigarette smoking. A particularly reprehensible advertisement was aired during that time period which suggested that doctors support and encourage the use of cigarettes, particularly the Camel brand. The commercial claims that a "nationwide survey" shows that "tens of thousands of doctors" from a wide variety of specialties use Camel cigarettes more than any other brand. Which specialties were included in the survey? General practitioners, surgeons, specialists, diagnosticians, radiologists, orthopedists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, and osteologists. Curiously absent from that "survey" were pulmonologists, cardiologists, and oncologists. But those kinds of doctors are killjoys. The cool surgeons know the coolest cigarette, the radiologists know what cigarette looks best smoked by a patient on a cranial film, dermatologists know which one feels best on your skin, ophthalmologists know which cigarette smoker clearly looks the best, orthopedists and osteologists know which cigarette feels the best right after a good boning, and general practitioners understand the complexities of recreational smoking. Was the survey legitimate? Did so many doctors 50 years ago smoke cigarettes prodigiously like everyone else in society? What on earth is an osteologist? The answers might not be perfectly clear, but what is certain is that thousands of people were deceived by these commercials into thinking that smoking cigarettes was harmless. Many would later go on to suffer from hypertension, COPD, and cancer. Truly sickening.


Dragonfly said...

I completely agree.

Kim said...

Oh man, this is right up my alley. I have so many old ads touting doctors (and nurses!) smoking habits.

It is so hard for me to believe that they did not know smoking was bad for you before the early '60s. Didn't all that coughing tell them something was wrong?

And from what I've read, they (the tobacco folks) knew it was addicting the entire time.

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Joye 510 said...

Which specialties were included in the survey?