TIME health

Smoking News to Make You Cringe

160009671
Stephen St. John—Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Read TIME's reports from the era when the medical community thought it was O.K. to smoke

Thursday marks the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout (GASO), a nationwide event encouraging smokers to kick the habit.

We know today that cigarette smoking causes serious diseases in every organ of the body, including lung cancer, diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration, and more. Tobacco use rakes up more than $96 billion a year in medical costs, and it’s estimated that 42.1 million people, or 18.1% of all adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that concluded that smoking caused lung cancer, and should be avoided. Before then, smoking messaging was depressingly inaccurate. Despite concerns — initially from a small minority of medical experts — the tobacco industry boomed in the U.S., and even doctors considered the effects of cigarettes to be benign.

Here are some examples of tobacco-related beliefs that appeared through the years in TIME Magazine:

1923: In an article about a recent compilation of smoking-related data, TIME was mostly concerned with whether smoking made people more or less brainy: “The outstanding fact of this survey is that every man in the literary group smokes, and the majority of the literary women. Moreover, most of them consider its effects beneficial, and claim that their literary and imaginative powers are stimulated by it.” And later: “From the laboratory data, the author concludes that it is impossible to say that tobacco smoking will retard the intellectual processes of any one person, but in a large group it may be predicted that the majority will be slightly retarded.”

1928: Some experts tried early on to warn about the effect of nicotine, but were met with resistance. In an article about a researcher presenting data on nicotine and the brain, TIME writes: “Many U. S. doctors have contended and often hoped to prove that smoking does no harm. In Newark, N. J., five children of the Fillimon family have been smoking full-sized cigars since the age of two. The oldest, Frank, 11, now averages five cigars a day. All of these children appear healthy, go to school regularly, get good grades.”

1935: Questions began to be raised about the effects on infants, though uptake was limited: “Physiologists agree that smoking does no more harm to a woman than to a man, if harm there be. According to many investigators, the only circumstances under which a woman should not smoke are while she has anesthetic gas in her lungs (she might explode), and while she produces milk for her baby. Milk drains from the blood of a smoking mother those smoke ingredients which please her, but may not agree with her nursling.”

1938 Even if there might be adverse health events for some smokers, not all physicians agreed it was a universal risk: “In step with a recent upsurge of articles on smoking, in the current issue of Scribner’s, Mr. Furnas offers several anti-smoking aids for what they are worth. Samples: 1) wash out the mouth with a weak solution of silver nitrate which ‘makes a smoke taste as if it had been cured in sour milk’; 2) chew candied ginger, gentian, or camomile; 3) to occupy the hands smoke a prop cigaret. For many a smoker, however, this facetious advice may be unnecessary, since many a doctor has come to the conclusion that, no matter what else it may do to you, smoking does not injure the heart of a healthy person.”

1949: By the late 1940s, smoking had become a contentious debate in the medical community: “Smoking? Possibly a minor cause of cancer of the mouth, said Dr. MacDonald. But smoking, argued New Orleans’ Dr. Alton Ochsner, can be blamed for the increase of cancer of the lung. Surgeon Ochsner, a nonsmoker, was positive. Dr. Charles S. Cameron, A.C.S. medical and scientific director, who does smoke, was not so sure. For every expert who blames tobacco for the increase of cancer of the lung, he said, there is another who says tobacco is not the cause.”

1962 More evidence was linking tobacco to cancer, and some groups were trying to get pregnant women to quit out of potential risks to the child, but still: “Some doctors, though, see no direct connection between smoking and prematurity; they argue that the problem is a matter of temperament, that high-strung women who smoke would have a high proportion of “preemies” anyway.”

1964 In a historic move, the 1964 Surgeon General’s report officially stated that cigarette smoking causes cancer, giving authority to anti-smoking campaigns. TIME wrote:

The conclusion was just about what everybody had expected. “On the basis of prolonged study and evaluation,” the 150,000-word report declared, “the committee makes the following judgment: Cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the U.S. to warrant appropriate remedial action.” More significant than the words was their source: it was the unanimous report of an impartial committee of top experts in several health fields, backed by the full authority of the U.S. Government.

Read TIME’s full 1964 coverage of the Surgeon General’s report, here in the TIME Vault: The Government Report

TIME Cancer

Young Smokers Put Millions at Risk, CDC Says

Kid Smoker
Diverse Images/UIG/Getty Images

5.6 million young people under age 17 could die early

Over 1 in 5 high school students use tobacco products, and unless rates drop significantly, 5.6 million young people under age 17 will die early from a smoking-related illness, according to a recent report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Among young people who use tobacco products, over 90% are using nicotine vectors like cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipes. The vast majority of smokers try their first cigarette by the time they turn 18. The findings were published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC analyzed its National Youth Tobacco Survey and report that in 2013, 22.9% of high school students and 6.5% of middle schoolers said they had used tobacco in the last 30 days. Those rates are slightly down from 2012, where 23.3% of high school students and 6.7% of middle schoolers said they’d used some form of tobacco in the last month. Unfortunately, the new numbers still show that close to 50% of all high schoolers and almost 18% of all middle schoolers have used a tobacco product at least once.

What about e-cigarettes? They’re still less popular than the traditional products: 4.5% of high schoolers and 1.1% of middle schoolers said they used them in the last month. How great of a problem e-cigarettes are for public health is still debated, but the products do contain nicotine, so therefore considered unsafe for kids.

One item of particular concern to the FDA are cigars, because they are taxed at a lower rate and often made to look like cigarettes, even having fruity flavors. Some are not regulated by the FDA in the way cigarettes are, which experts cite as a major concern.

Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans every year, and for each death, there are about 32 people living with a smoking-related illness. It costs the U.S. economy billions in medical costs and loss in productivity. One strategy to make smoking less appealing to young people (besides the long list of terrifying health risks, like lung cancer) is by hiking up the price of tobacco, and launching more youth-targeted social campaigns, the CDC says.

Smokers can get free help quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

MONEY Workplace

Camel and Pall Mall Maker Finally Bans Smoking in the Office

Starting next year, employees of Reynolds American Inc. will no longer be able to use cigarettes at their desks, or in the majority of the building.

TIME Addiction

Big Tobacco Is Ramming Home the Message About the Dangers of E-Cigarettes

World Health Organisation Calls For Regulation Of Ecigarettes
In this photo illustration, a woman smokes an E-Cigarette at the V-Revolution E-Cigarette shop in Covent Garden on August 27, 2014 in London, England. Dan Kitwood—Getty Images

Think of it as corporate image enhancement

When it comes to e-cigarettes, large tobacco companies are suddenly stepping up warnings about their own products, the New York Times reports.

“Nicotine is addictive and habit forming, and is very toxic by inhalation, in contact with the skin, or if swallowed,” reads a warning on packets of e-cigarette made by Altria, the company that manufactures Marlboro cigarettes.

Industry experts and critics say the warnings are serving as a legal safeguard or a corporate image-enhancer.

“Is this part of a noble effort for the betterment of public health, or a cynical business strategy? I suspect the latter,” said Dr. Robert K. Jackler, a professor and researcher on e-cigarette advertising at the Stanford School of Medicine.

MarkTen, a prominent e-cigarette brand, features a 100-word warning that, among other things, reiterates that e-cigarettes are not a way to wean oneself off cigarettes. This warning also appears on Reynolds American’s Vuse e-cigarettes.

According to Altria spokesman William Phelps, the MarkTen warning is created with a “a goal to openly and honestly communicate about health effects.”

“Why wouldn’t you warn about ‘very toxic’ nicotine on your cigarettes, when you do so on e-cigarettes?” is Jackler’s only question.

According to the Times, experts say the strategy is low-risk for the big tobacco companies because many people don’t read the warnings anyway.

[NYT]

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 25

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Beyond bombs: To truly disable Islamic State, the U.S. must outmaneuver their effective use of social media.

By Rita Katz in Reuters

2. The Truth Campaign has pushed teen smoking to the brink of a welcome extinction and helped create a new breed of marketing.

By Malcolm Harris in Al Jazeera America

3. Xi Jinping has urged reform to China’s corrupt political system – and he should heed his own advice.

By the editorial staff of the Economist

4. A new program focuses on training people to recognize and manage their own biases instead of reprogramming those biases out of existence.

By Leon Neyfakh in the Boston Globe

5. Will marriage survive the recession? Economics and education are major factors in the declining marriage rate.

By Neil Shah in the Wall Street Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME tobacco

Here’s the Best Way to Get Someone to Quit Smoking

Antismoking messaging works differently depending on who's watching, a new study shows

For years, the U.S. government has gone back and forth about whether or not it’s legal to force tobacco companies to use images of cancerous lungs and other graphic pictures on their cigarette packaging. The assumption, of course, is that the images will terrify any smoker into kicking the habit.

However, a new study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research shows that the graphic tactic might not work on all smokers. The effectiveness of antismoking messaging depends on the attitude of the smoker.

Researchers from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center studied 740 smokers to figure out what type of antismoking campaigns worked best. They discovered that messages that stress the benefits of quitting, like “quitting smoking reduces the risk of death due to tobacco,” were more effective at getting smokers to quit if those smokers thought that quitting would be very hard. The more graphic and negative ads like “smoking can kill you” tended to work best for smokers who thought they could quit whenever they wanted.

One of the reasons motivating messaging worked best among smokers who viewed quitting as a challenge could be that they’re already well aware of the health risks. On the other hand, the researchers speculate that loss-framed messaging — the kind that focuses on the negative consequences of continuing a behavior — worked better for smokers who felt they had more agency in their cessation because the negative ads built up motivation to stop.

Ultimately, the researchers believe that having a mixture of various messaging strategies is the best way to appeal to a broad range of smokers, and that currently there are far more negative messages than positive ones.

That’s not to say that scary ads don’t work. For a couple years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has poured resources into an intensive ad campaign called “Tips From Former Smokers” which features real former smokers who have experienced serious setbacks from their habit, like no longer being able to speak properly or having a baby too early. During past campaigns, the CDC has said that their quit lines experience 80% more activity when the ads are running compared with the weeks before.

Terrifying ads aren’t going away anytime soon, but mixing in more motivating messages might appeal to would-be quitters of all kinds.

TIME Retail

CVS Quits Selling Tobacco 3 Weeks Ahead of Schedule

Changes corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health

CVS announced Wednesday that it has yanked cigarettes and other tobacco products from shelves at 7,600 stores nationwide, beating its original goal for ending cigarette sales by almost a month.

The retailer also changed its corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health, a name the company believes “reflects our broader health care commitment.”

CVS pledged tobacco products would be off its shelves by Oct. 1 when it announced its plan to stop selling cigarettes in February, but they’re gone three weeks early.

“Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their health care needs,” Helena B. Foulkes, President of CVS/pharmacy said in a statement posted on the company’s website. “The removal of cigarette and other tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy.”

“We’re the first national pharmacy chain to step up and take this action,” CEO Larry Merlo said in a video accompanying the original statement announcing the halt in sales. “Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered.”

Merlo also said the company plans to launch a “robust smoking cessation program” next year, to help the 7 in 10 smokers who say the way to quit achieve that goal.

The move comes as CVS is increasingly trying to rebrand itself as a health-care company, with in-pharmacy clinics and partnerships with hospitals. Now that cigarettes have disappeared, customers can expect to see new signage and an “enhanced selection” of nicotine replacement products.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made public health a key priority during her time in the White House, thanked CVS in a Twitter message.

TIME E-Cigarettes

Toronto Bans E-Cigarettes From City Workplaces

An e-cigarette on March 05, 2013 in Paris.
An e-cigarette in Paris on March 05, 2013 Kenzo Tribouillard—AFP/Getty Images

Mayor Rob Ford reportedly voted against the ban

The Toronto City Council voted 36-2 in favor of banning e-cigarettes from all city workplaces on Monday.

According to a Toronto Sun reporter, Mayor Rob Ford was one of the two votes against the ban.

The vote was part of a marathon session for the city council which could last several days and will address some 400 items from e-cigarettes to traffic lights.

Toronto is not the first major city in North America to issue a prohibition on e-cigarettes. In March, Los Angeles became the third city after New York and Chicago to outlaw e-cigarettes at the office, and Philadelphia followed soon after.

But the L.A. ban extended further than city workplaces with bans in place for bars, restaurants, and parks. In New York, e-cigarette smokers cannot vape anywhere where conventional smoking is also banned, and in Chicago, there’s an indoor smoking ban in place. Smaller cities have also taken up the issue, and it’s expected that more cities will consider similar bans.

Health Canada, the government’s public health department, advised Canadians not to buy e-cigarettes as long ago as 2009, CTV News reports, but there are no formal prohibitions on the sale of e-cigarettes unless they are “expressly intended” for nicotine delivery. That allows many retailers to circumvent a crackdown by regulators.

Earlier this year, the FDA said it would increase its regulation over e-cigarettes, and on Sunday night, the American Heart Association called for stricter oversight, especially when it comes to marketing to kids.

TIME Culture

No Thanks: 8 Products Women Have Stopped Buying

Less Diet Coke, more scarves

With the financial collapse of 2008 behind us, and an economic recovery underway, buying trends for women have had their own kind of renaissance. Over the past five years, key fads have gone by the wayside (so long, diet foods) while other purchasing trends have taken center stage (hello, student loans!) “All put together, it looks like there’s a bit more empowerment and independence for women,” says Anita Gandhi, Vice President of Strategic Services at Experian Marketing Services, which provided the data.

Turns out, women are now spending more money on experiential events like going out to concerts or watching live performances, which Gandhi attributes to the increase in financial security. “In 2009, people didn’t have a lot of discretionary spending,” she says, “and if they did they were more concerned about [whether] they were spending their money on frivolous things.”

So what day-to-day products are women ditching? Here’s the breakdown:

1) Pantyhose of any kind

Sorry, Kate Middleton, not everyone is on board with your nude pantyhose trend. In the last five years, control-top pantyhose purchases have plummeted by 47%, regular pantyhose purchases have dropped 40%, and knee-high buying is down 59%. Women seem to be ditching hose in favor of tights– those are up 18% since 2009. Because newsflash: black tights look great with anything.

2) Diet foods

We’ve seen some serious pushback against chemical-laden “diet foods” in the last five years: sales of sugar-free foods are down 15%, fat-free foods have dipped 17% (low-fat is down 13%,) and low-cholesterol foods are down 22%. But that doesn’t mean women are any less health-conscious than before. Instead, the definition of “healthy” has evolved, says Gandhi. Now women are gravitating toward natural and organic foods, which have seen a 10% uptick in sales.

3) Diet cola

Remember when women downed diet sodas like water? Not anymore. Diet cola sales have plummeted 21% since 2009, and non-cola diet soda sales have dropped even more, by 26%. We hate to break it to you, Taylor Swift, but those numbers include Diet Coke. “People saw diet soda as a healthy alternative,” says Gandhi. “You could drink soda [thinking] it doesn’t have the calories and sugar.” Yet in the past five years, we’ve seen an influx of information touting the “negative impacts of even diet soda, the chemicals in it,” says Gandhi. And then there’s the bad press brought about by anti-soda campaigns like the one Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed in New York City, which certainly didn’t help soda sales.

4) Cigarettes and anti-smoking products

Both cigarettes and products that help people quit smoking (like patches or gum) have seen sales dip in the last five years: Cigarettes are down 13%, and anti-smoking products have sunk by 18%. Since fewer women smoke than men (only about 16% of American women smoke, compared to more than 20% of men) and since smoking overall has been on the decline since 2005, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

5) Hair products

Apparently the natural look is in, because women are buying less styling cream and fewer home perms and relaxers than they did in 2009. Both styling purchases have gone down by 14% in the last five years. Perhaps this is the resurgence of the boho-chic? Cue the flowing braids.

6) Business casual: blazers, skirts, slacks

Are offices getting more casual in the age of the hoodie-tech-genius? Maybe so, since purchases of business casual attire have dropped in the last five years. Women are buying fewer blazers and suit jackets (sales have plummeted by 32%,) skirts (down 18%) and business slacks (down 24%, but that doesn’t include jeans, which, we hate to inform you, aren’t business casual.)

On the other hand, dresses, scarves, and boots are on the upswing. Dress purchases are up 15%, boots are up 44%, and scarves are up 68% compared to five years ago. Moral of the story: scarves are back!

7) Non-scarf accessories: gloves, purses, watches, sunglasses

Women also seem to be spending less on accessories that aren’t scarves. Glove purchases are down by 25%, watches are down 15%, and fashionable sunglasses (not Rx) are down 26%. Even purses saw a 14% drop. Did we mention that scarves are back?

8) Books:

Despite the runaway success of The Fault in Our Stars, book purchases are still down among women. Paperback, hardcover, and audiobook sales dropped 13% in the last five years.

 

So what are women doing with all the money they’re saving on Diet Coke, pantyhose, cigarettes and suit jackets? Having a blast, apparently. Here are the products that female purchasers have gravitated to in the last five years:

1) Healthy moderation

Along with the 10% rise in natural and organic food purchases, women spent more money on gym memberships (up 26%) but also bought more chocolate (up 8%.)

2) Fun stuff

Concerts and music festival ticket purchases saw an 11% rise since 2009, while live dance performances had a 9% spike and comedy club tickets went up 8%. In other words, women just want to have some fun.

3) Big financial decisions

The majority of home equity loans, new car loans, and U.S. savings bonds are now owned by women (51%, 52% and 54%, respectively) and 59% of personal loans for education are made to women. Meanwhile, only 48% of women say they’re the sole decision-maker when it comes to buying food products, and only 49% say they decide which household goods to buy, down from 51% and 52% in 2009. The result: women are making more of the big financial decisions, but fewer small, household ones.

So if you’re planning on putting on your dress, tights, boots and scarf, munching some chocolate, checking on your home equity loan and heading to a music festival, you’re right on trend.

 

TIME Culture

Up in Smoke: The Rise and Fall of Big Tobacco

"According to this survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette," is just one of the phrases we no longer hear in commercials

Earlier this week, a $27.4 billion deal was announced that will merge two of the largest American tobacco companies, Reynolds American and Lorillard.

The deal comes at a time when cigarette smokers are at a steady decline. Even so, Marlboro still makes some lists of most valuable brands in the world.

And while it’s hard to remember the days when Camels were advertised as the most preferred cigarettes by doctors, a small segment of the industry is quickly growing: e-cigarettes.

Above, take a quick look at the history of America’s complicated relationship with the addictive habit.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser