In the first few posts I showed that my argument will be that the anti-cigarette advertising laws are benefiting the cigarette companies – specifically Philip Morris and BAT,
However, they did not initiate the actions that eventually brought these laws about. These were the actions of individuals that felt they had a cause and were activists by nature.
Economists talk about The Law of Unintended Consequences. Sometimes a decision can have a beneficial consequence, sometimes it can have a negative unintended consequence. An example of a negative unintended consequence would be how the banning of the poison DDT on crops lead to the survival of mosquitoes in Africa and hence malaria becoming the biggest killer in Africa.
Before I embark on more evidence of how anti-smoking legislation is benefiting the cigarette companies and hurting everybody else let’s look at the hero’s of the resistance against smoking.
REBELS WITH A CAUSE
Over time there have been some people who stand out as anti-smoking activists that have achieved something. In fact they achieved a lot more than most politicians achieved even with wars. They have changed society dramatically all over the world. They are even acknowledged for their achievements by the World Health Organisation (see the award for Prof. Harry Seftel).
They can truly be seen as rebels in the sense that they rebelled against the society that captured them in a smoke-filled environment. Their cause has been to make everybody else stop smoking; or, to release everybody else from this smoke-filled environment.
There is a certain financial incentive to be an anti-smoking activist these days because there is good funding from the state – from taxes levied on cigarettes. It is also extremely profitable if you are a lawyer. However, in the early days these rebels did what they did from passion for their cause.
There are many academic studies concerned with the addictive personality and specifically the smoking personality. The assumption being that there has to be some personality weakness that causes them to be smokers. Unfortunately, if about 30% of people are smokers, then it is unlikely that they will have one single trait that distinguishes them. On the other hand: there are no studies about the personality type of people who have become anti-smoking activists.
One can speculate that they are altruists. Obviously they care about other people’s health because generally they are fighting against cancer. However, it is seldom that one sees the softness in their character that is ascribed to people like Sister Theresa. None of them come from an occupation that one associates with caring, such as nursing. A few are doctors.
One can speculate that they might be religious zealots. This is unlikely because only a few come from religions that are seen as extremists like Mormons and Adventists.
In fact, they chose to rebel against smoking rather than other deadly diseases of society like malaria, motorbike accidents, pollution, etc. Maybe if one want to understand their motivation better one need to consider the cause they rebelled against rather than merely their personalities and motivations.
Both Snowdon and Pope give short descriptions of these rebels backgrounds. There appears to be two common factors: many of these rebels are ex-smokers (like Hitler was), or had smoking parents, or a parent that died of cancer. But even this is tenuous: with the prevalence of smoking and the high cancer death toll most people will have had at least one smoking parent and one parent taken by cancer. Most ex-smokers also do not become anti-smokers. (split this para to deal with the three issues separately).
Cannon Stowell and Thomas Reynolds (ATS)
These two gentlemen formed the Anti-Tobacco Society in Britain in 1853. They came from a temperance background and their major concern was that smoking would lead to drinking, vice, breach of Sunday observance and idleness. Tobacco was seen as the stepping-stone to other evils.
A member of the ATS and an ex-smoker Solly managed to get The Lancet to publish a paper stating that he knew of “no single vice which does as much harm as smoking”. He added that those of troubled mind (responding to claims about smoking’s calming effects) should not be smoking but instead take the quintessential Victorian remedy of “submitting to the rod, and rising strengthened by the chastisement”.
Lucy Page Gaston and Frances Willard (WCTU and ACL)
Born in Delaware she was the daughter of a teetotalling non-smoking father who had been involved in many great reform movements of the day including the battle against slavery. Lucy was an active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Anti-Saloon League. As a student she lead raids on saloons and gambling halls, smashed bottles of liquor and shouted temperance slogans.
By the 1890’s the WCTU successfully pressured four states to completely ban the sales of cigarettes.
Willard, the president of the WCTU, was an unusual and striking individual. A vegetarian, teetotal, non-smoking, spinster, this ex-professor had a tendency to dress in masculine fashion and had “wild crushes on girls” in her youth. Willard blamed tobacco for her brother’s death.
After Willard died in 1898 Lucy Gaston founded the Anti-Cigarette League of Chicago. The ACL took its cue from the Consolidated Anti-Cigarette League founded in New York by the educationalist pipe-smoking Charles Hubbell who was mainly interested in preventing teenagers from smoking.
The Glaston’s ACL (of Chicago) claimed 300,000 members – mostly children – by 1901. Between 1901 and 1908 the ACL was instrumental in persuading Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Illinois to ban the sale, manufacture and possession of cigarettes.
She worked full-time for the ACL relying on charity and is reputed to have lived on milk and crackers for much of her life.
Carry Nation (WCTU)
Carry’s mother was insane believing herself to be Queen Victoria and her father responded to these fantasies by building his wife a golden carriage. She was a keen WCTU and anti-Saloon League member.
Her first husband was not only an alcoholic but also a smoker and a Freemason. She left him and married David Nation. Carry stood over six feet tall and was convinced that she had conversations with Jesus. She had a great propensity to violence which ‘included, but was not restricted to, thwacking courting couples with her umbrella and laying waste to saloons.
She attacked salons regularly using a hatchet to smash barrels of whiskey. Her hatchet became her trademark. She waged a continuous campaign against smokers, drinkers and freemasons in her publication The Smasher’s Mail.
She died in a mental institution at the age of 65.
Ford considered smokers to be less productive employees and, like Thomas Edison (who was a prolific smoker), would not employ them.
Ford wrote a book titled The Case against the Little White Slaver which included an explanation how smoking bred criminality.
Dr Graham G. Pease (NPL)
In 1911 Pease founded the Nonsmoker’s Protective League in New York. He was then a 56 year old dentist and homeopathic physician. He took against coffee at the age og twelve and went on to add tea, chocolate, alcohol, vinegar, cocoa, meat and tobacco to the list.
The league confined its actions against public smoking, rather than a general action like Lucy Gaston’s.
Two years after its formation smoking was banned in subways, street cars and ferries.
When 72,000 people signed a petition (that failed) to have smoking allowed in at least one in five carriages he sat next to a doctor who launched a scathing attack against “those who do not like tobacco themselves and protest against others using it, either under their own or another name”. The reference to ‘another name’ refered to letter that Pease made up shoeing support for his cause.
Dr Lennox Johnston (NSNS)
A Glaswegian GP who gave up smoking in 1928 joined the National Society of Non-Smokers which campaigned for smoke free places in the UK after the war.
Johnston repeatedly injected himself with small doses of nicotine to analyse its addictive properties. This resulted in a scientific paper titled Tobacco smoking and Respiratory Disease. He found 35 volunteers to inject with nicotine and noted that they found the experience pleasant. After 80 injections many preferred the needle to cigarettes, and when the needle was withheld cravings became apparent. He recognised that smoking was addictive 44 years before the Royal College of Physicians came to the same conclusion.
Unfortunately for him this was the start of the World War and tobacco was on a high. He was ignored, even scorned, by the medical community and his ground breaking work did not see the light of day except as a minor – and edited – paper in the back of The Lancet in 1942.
Richard Doll and Austin Bradford
By the end of the 1950’s these two English epidemiologists gets most of the credit for associating smoking with cancer (rather than Johnston who did this well before them).
Dr. Luther L. Terry
Was the Surgeon General under John F. Kennedy. He set up a committee to get to the bottom of the tobacco controversy after continuous pressure by the American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, the National Tuberculosis Association and the American Public Health Association.
In 1964 the Surgeon General’s Report found overwhelmingly against the cigarette and its association with lung cancer. Their estimate was that a smoker is 11 times more likely to develop the disease than a non-smoker.
From this point on the war against cigarettes took real form with laws against advertising, packaging, etc. Also the civil court cases started and the big money started to flow.
This was also followed by legislation in other countries banning advertising and enforcing warnings on packs: Britain in 1965; USSR in 1971; France in 1976; etc.
John F. Banzhaf III (ASH)
There was actually a lull in organised anti-smoking activities by activists over the two world wars. This was mainly due to the important role that cigarettes played in the war effort with even voluntary funds being set up to send cigarettes to the soldiers.
Snowdon describes: “The revival of anti-smoking as a mainstream movement began in a middle class living room in New York on thanksgiving Day 1966. It was there watching an American Football game with his parents (both of which smoked), that a 25-year-old part-time cruise-ship dancer named John F. Banzhaf III suddenly became outraged by cigarette commercials that appeared on television.”
The problem up to then, and the reason the USA did not follow the footsteps of Britain in banning television advertising, was that the US constitution guarantees freedom of speech for all.
Banzhaff, who had studied law at Columbia, felt that the Fairness Doctrine means that the television networks had the obligation that both sides of the argument should be heard.
He approached the Federal Communication Commission demanding air-time for himself. They were concerned about the ethics of cigarette advertising and felt he had a good idea so they wrote to WCBS demanding free airtime for anti-smoking commercials. They had little time for Banzhaf himself stating “We never gave him a second thought – he was somebody we were using.”
The FCC ruled in 1967 that one anti-smoking commercial must be shown for every four cigarette commercials.
In 1968 Banzhaf formed his own action group called Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which monitored anti-smoking ads to ensure they were given their allotted time and appeared in good time slots.
This had an immediate effect on smoking behaviour. Per capita smoking had been falling since the Surgeon General’s Report in 1964, now this decline accelerated.
A blanket ban on all broadcast cigarette advertising was enforced in 1971. The television networks stood to lose $200,000,000 in revenue.
The Law of Unforeseen Consequences stepped in to spoil the day.
When cigarette advertising disappeared of television the Fairness Doctrine also fell apart. The television stations did not have to give free air time for anti-smoking advertising. Unfortunately the anti-smoking advertising was more effective than the cigarette advertising. It was calculated that anti-smoking that ran between 1968 and 1970 decreased annual cigarette consumption by 531 per person while the cigarette advertising increased it by just 95 per head.
The unforeseen consequence of banning cigarette advertising was that cigarette consumption, which had been falling for years since the Surgeon General Report in 1964, started to rise!
The same happened to cigarette consumption in Britain where after the ban on cigarette advertising in 1966 the consumption of cigarettes increased by 6 billion more units being sold than the year before the ban.
These numbers are important as far as the theme of this book is concerned: a ban on cigarette advertising is a windfall to the bottom line of cigarette companies! Even if consumption remains unchanged about 80% of their advertising budget was spent on broadcast advertising, this now becomes available as pure profits. When all advertising is banned all of that money becomes pure profits.
The law of unforeseen consequences also hit Banzhaf’s ASH which had 5,000 members in 1969 who contributed $90,227 before the ban. After the ban the contributions dwindled to $58,381.
In 1971 Banzhaf changed his business strategy stating that the aim of ASH is now to “defend the rights of non-smokers”. This was pure business genius.
Banzhaf became the countries best known anti-smoking activist. By 1979 ASH had 32,000 active donors contributing $358,509 of which Banzhzf drew $39,190 as director. In 1980 money this was not an insignificant figure, especially since this was his part-time job while he was a tutor at the George Washington University Law School.
ASH’s 10 employees, two of which were lawyers, did not concern itself with grassroots activities preferring legal actions against the cigarette companies using grey areas in the law. A study of ASH’s newsletters show that only 1 in 10 were about health and 2/3rd concerned legal issues.
Nader is best known for drawing attention to the flaws in the automobile safety and for his campaigns against the pesticide DDT. While Banzhaf only asked for separate smoking sections on planes, Nader campaigned for a complete smoking ban on airplanes.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the Civil Aeronautics Board conducted tests on the air in airplanes and concluded that, due to the high turnover rate of …, it was cleaner than any other form of public transport. The argument then became one of consumer preference and after a survey showed that 60% of people do not like the smell of cigarettes on airplanes separate smoking sections were created onboard in 1973.
Nader pushed for a total smoking ban on busses in 1970 succeeding in getting the Interstate Commerce commission to restrict smokers to the rear 20% of busses. This was later extended to 30% due to the smoking section becoming overcrowded. He tried to get the FAA to ban smoking in cockpits in 1976, but the FAA declined.
Nader succeeded in 1976 to also bringing about non-smoking sections on trains.
Snowdon points out that at this stage “Virtually no research had been published regarding passive smoking and the phrase itself was unknown. Public transport ban were brought about because non-smokers were saying they did not like the smell of unrestricted smoking, not because they feared for their lives. Smokers had little reason to protest, and few did.”
Betty Carnes (ACAS)
A respected ornithologist, 60 years old, found herself on a plane next to a heavy smoker when the air filtration broke down and she became sick in the bag. She requested that the airline designate the first three rows of seats to non-smokers, which they did in 1973.
She became a vocal advocate of smoke-free places in her home state of Arizona. In 1973, largely as a result of her lobbying, Arizona became the first state to enact comprehensive ‘non-smokers rights legislation’. Smoking was banned in elevators, libraries, theatres, museums and busses – just as the Surgeon General had recommended. American Airlines also increased its non-smoking section to six rows; then to 12 rows and ultimately only the back of the plane was a smoking area.
In 1977 she launched the Arizonans Concerned About Smoking group.
Alvan and Betty Brody
In their book The Legal rights of nonsmokers (1977) they called for non-smokers to be charged with assault and battery.
Dr Joseph J. Kristan
Put the Brody’s theory to test by asking a smoker to put out his cigarette, when he refused Kristan sprayed his face with air freshener. Kristan was acquitted in court claiming self-defence.
Simon Chapman (Australia, MOP-UP and BUGGA-UP)
Australia saw the creation of the Non-Smokers Movement of Australia in 1977. Simon Chapman formed a sibling movement called Movement Opposed to Promotion of Unhealthy Products (MOP-UP). For four years its members picketed the Australian open demanding that Marlboro be dropped as a sponsor. Chapman was in his twenties when he formed MOP-UP.
1979 saw the formation of a splinter group Billboard-Utilising Graffiti Against Unhealthy Promotions – mostly referred to as BUGGA-UP. As its name implies their activities consisted of defacing billboards, not restricted to only cigarette advertising.
The sport of defacing billboards continues to this day in Australia.
Clara Gouin (GASP)
In 1971 Gouin set up the Group Against Smoking Pollution in Maryland. She was a housewife whose father died of lung cancer and whose husband was acutely sensitive to tobacco. She described GASP’s aims as getting non-smokers to protect themselves and to make smoking so unpopular that smokers will quit.
Within three years GASP had more than 50 chapters including two in Canada.
Paul Loveday (GASP)
Gouin was not interested in ‘becoming a face’ so GASP remained a loose coalition of associations. Loveday, president of the Berkley branch however had the ambition to become the face of GASP.
Highly sensitive to tobacco smoke, a Mormon and a law graduate Loveday was at the center when of the first West Coast victory for GASP when Berkley city banned smoking in public places and mandated a non-smoking section in restaurants.
Loveday then demanded that his followers be given the power of citizen’s arrest to apprehend those that flouted the ban on smoking.
GASP had a series of successes in the 1970’s – see page 120.
George Godber (ASH-UK)
During the 1960’s several anti-smoking actions were considered by government, but nothing came to fruition – other than that the cigarette companies voluntarily withdrew advertising from television. We will revisit these surprising seemingly altruistic actions by cigarette companies later in the book.
In 1962 an employee of the Health Ministry wrote that it is lamentable that there exists very little in the way of a grassroots anti-smoking lobby in England and that such a voluntary movement would make it much easier for Government and local authorities to take regulatory measures against smoking if there is a body of opinion pressing them to do so.
Godber, the Chief medical Officer, and Chairman of the Health Education Council recognised a good idea when he saw one. Godber is described as the staunchest and most high-profile anti-smoker in the land at the time and had the view that smoking should be limited to consenting adults and in private. He envisioned an activist group that will continue pressure long after he has left office.
Various names were considered including British Association on Smoking and Health (BASH) and Council for Action on Smoking and Health (CASH) but were rejected due to the acronyms.
It was decided to borrow a name that worked elsewhere and ASH-UK was launched in 1971. It masqueraded as a voluntary group but was actually staffed by full-time government employees. It accepted contributions, but was funded by the taxpayer. By the end of its first decade it was set on eliminating throughout the United Kingdom.
James L. Repace
All the anti-smoking laws enacted during the 1970’s were based on the preference of non-smokers to have smoke-free zones. There was no evidence of secondary smoking (or passive smoking) being harmful, and the terms were hardly used.
Repace was a physicist who suffered from asthma, as did two of his young children. His father died of lung cancer at age 59.
He felt intuitively that secondhand smoke was dangerous but could find no evidence for this so he set out to prove his case. He used a machine called a piezobalance machine which purported to measure’ respirable particular matter’ per cubic foot in the air. The machine did not identify what the particles in the air were, and the user had to decide whether they were dangerous.
He measured the air in places where smoking was allowed and where it was not allowed finding that the air in places that allowed smoking had 10 to 100 times more respirable particle matter than those that did not. Assuming that smoking matter was dangerous he extrapolated that these locations posed a lung cancer risk of 250 to 1,000 times greater than places where no smoking was allowed.
He published his findings in Science magazine in 1979. Despite his methodology, assumptions and conclusions being open to many criticism this represents the first piece of evidence supporting the threat that second-hand smoking constitutes a health risk.
We will return to the importance of Repace in the war on smokers in chapter xx
The Rise of Acronyms
The anti-smoking lobby gained a lot of momentum during the late 1970’s and was especially marked by the creative acronyms that saw the light of day.
Smoking Makes Oxygen Go (SMOG)
Fresh Air for Non-Smokers (FANS)
Society for Mortification and smoker Humiliation (SMASH)
The anti-anti-smokers also had some fun with acronyms:
People United to Fight Fanatics (PUFF)
Growing Resentment Over Anti-smoking Noise (GROAN)
Anri-Smokers Scam (ASS) – that is this webpage.