smoking/tobacco

Dmitriy T.M. sent along a Slate slideshow chock full of interesting information on cigarettes and health warnings internationally. I found this particular tidbit most compelling:

As of June 22, 2010, U.S. cigarette manufacturers are no longer allowed to use the words “light,” “low,” and “mild” to describe their product because it gives the false impression that these cigarettes are better for you than others (source). In place of the words, however, manufacturers are using light and dark colors.  Between 2006 and 2009, for example, Salem cigarettes phased out their packages labeled with words (top) and moved to color based differentiation (bottom):

Marlboro has issued a “cheat sheet,” showing the move from descriptors to colors:

This is a very strategic move on the part of cigarette manufacturers, who know that the colors give consumers the same impression as the words.  At least one study has shown as much:

Scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., studied 197 smokers and 200 nonsmokers who were shown two mock cigarette packs, one light blue and one dark blue.

They were then asked, “Which one would you buy if you were trying to reduce the risks to your health?” Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed selected the lighter-shaded pack, while just 8 percent chose the darker-shaded pack.

The New York City Health Department is trying to combat this new strategy with commercials aimed at exposing it:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The movement to de-normalize tobacco smoking has been quite successful in the U.S., especially when it comes to the intersection of smoking and children.   Advertising directly to children, or in ways that might be interpreted as appealing to children, is illegal.  Smoking while pregnant is taboo and smoking around your children, especially indoors, is also heavily stigmatized, at least among some American populations.

A collection of vintage cigarette advertising at the Stanford School of Medicine, however, suggests that these attitudes are quite new.  The site, sent in by Kristyn G., displays a wide array of advertising with kids.

Marlboro, for example, used cute babies to sell their cigarettes:

Many companies used kids by suggesting that cigarettes are the perfect gift:

I’m not even really quite sure what this ad is trying to say:

Text:

This ad suggests that smoking is an excellent way to bond with your small child:

This ad suggests that your baby was delivered 15 minutes late because the stork was taking a smoke break:

And apparently there used to be a “boy scout” brand of cigarettes:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Mindy J. and Andrea F. sent in a really interesting project by artist Nathan Vincent.  Vincent recreates masculine items and ideas with feminine crafts in order to upset the gender binary.  He explains:

My work explores gender permissions and the challenges that arise from straying from the prescribed norms. It questions the qualities of gender by considering what constitutes masculine and feminine. It critiques stereotypical gender mediums by creating “masculine objects” using “feminine processes” such as crochet, sewing, and applique.

For example:


More examples of his work at his site.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Example One: Is it me, or do the bare buns in this ad seem just a little bit child-porny?  It’s a nice example of how our sensibilities change; these days there is a loud and ubiquitous discourse around children’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation.  A discourse that, I think, would make this ad inappropriate today.

Example Two: After decades of anti-smoking public health initiatives which included, along with health warnings, the association of smoking with bad breath, yellow teeth, and stinking clothes and hair, I somehow don’t think food would be marketed with a cigarette in its mouth (1950).

Example Three: This candy ad begins “Some tigers eat people.  I eat tigers.  His tail was 3 chocolates longer.”  Then, it continues, “P.S. I made a gun from the tube.”   Today, in most parts of the U.S., childhood innocence is no longer marketed with firearms.

Source: Vintage ads (here, here, and here) and Found in Mom’s Basement.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Katrin sent along links to visual portrayals of how much money goes, or could go, to various causes.  While sometimes it’s hard to comprehend what a billion, or 300 billion, dollars amounts to, these images give us perspective on just where our priorities lie.  The segments below are clipped from the visuals for the U.K. and the U.S. at Information is Beautiful.

The British example nicely illustrates how little social services like education, police, and welfare cost in the big scheme of things.

It also reveals how easy it would be to wave all of the African countries’ debt to Western countries. Just £128 spread out over the West.  Shoot, that’s the money for just a couple of corporate bailouts.

The U.S. example reveals how costly (just) the Iraq war has been.  All of our spending pales in comparison to that expenditure., with the exception of what we have spent bailing out the U.S. economy.

It also reveals that the U.S.’s regular defense budget is almot enough to feed and educate every child on earth for five years, and/or about the same as the revenues of Walmart and Nintendo combined.

If we diverted the money spent on porn, we could save the Amazon… almost five times over.  For that matter, if we gave our yoga money to the Amazon, that would just about do it.

Bill Gates could have paid for the Beijing Olympics and had money left over.

Dmitriy T.M. sent in an interactive breakdown of the US Budget for 2011.  In the figures below, the sizes of the squares represent the proportion of the budget, but the colors refer to changes from 2010 (dark and light pink = less funding, dark and light green = more).  These figures will give you an idea, but the graphic is interactive and there’s lots more to learn at the site.

See also our posts on how many starving children could be fed by celebrity’s engagement rings and where U.S. tax dollars go.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Nicolé L.-G. sent along a story on Jezebel about a new policy that Whole Foods is offering to its employees.  Whole Foods has heretofore offered a 20% discount to all employees but, from now on, employees who are willing to undergo surveillance of a selection of body measures (blood pressure, cholesterol tests, and BMI calculations) and refrain from nicotine use, can try to qualify for better discounts:


Whole Foods specifies that you are only allowed the discount that correlates with your “worst” measure.  So, even if you’re a non-smoker with 110/70 blood pressure and <150 or LDL <80 cholesterol, if you have a BMI of 30 or higher, you’re stuck at the “Bronze” level.

As has been discussed on this blog, and excellently at Shapely Prose, BMI does not translate directly into “health.”  But Nicolé did a great job offering some additional analysis of this policy.  She wrote:

…according to the popular media’s perception of weight management, eating healthy (whole) foods is one of the best ways to achieve health, so why make it easier (cheaper) for already “healthy” people to continue eating healthy and make it harder (more expensive) for “unhealthy” people to eat better quality food? I wonder how the employees with a healthy (thin) appearance would have felt if the increased discount was given to those with bad cholesterol, higher BMI’s and high blood pressure?!

Then there’s the idea that your employer will now be keeping track of your health information! It supports the idea that our bodies and weight (across genders) are being relegated to the role of either a commodity or liability for a company; useful for aiding or damaging the bottom-line. The way [CEO John] Mackay speaks of the collection of the “bio-marker” data as being cheap or expensive denotes a sense of ownership that the company then has over our physical autonomy that no company has a right to.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Vintage ads are an excellent way to illustrate how “the way things are” are not the way things have to be or always were.  In this post, I offer an ad for chewing tobacco.  Now, most Americans today associate chewing tobacco (eh em) “dip” with working class, rural, white men (hello family!) and, about ten years ago, baseball players (but I digress).

In contrast to this current social construction, this vintage ad suggests that dip is the province of the aristocracy (details after the ad):

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Here are the parts that got my attention:

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Text:

Take the aristocracy in England.  As far back as the 16th century, they considered it a mark of distinction — as well as a source of great satisfaction — to use finely-cut, finely-ground tobacco with the quaint-sounding name of “snuff.”  At first, this “snuff” was, as the name suggests, inhaled through the nose.

Then, the ad claims that “snuff” is enjoyed, today, by lawyers, judges, and scientists:

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Selected text:

Why is “smokeless tobacco” becoming so popular in America?  There are a number of reasons.  One of the obvious ones is that it is a way of enjoying tobacco that is anything but obvious.  In other words, you can enjoy it any of the times or places where smoking is not permitted.  Thus, lawyers and judges who cannot smoke in the courtroom, scientists who cannot smoke in the laboratory, and many people who like to smoke on the job, but aren’t allowed to, often become enthusiastic users.

I just love the contrast between the current social construction and the attempt at social construction made in this ad.  I have no idea whether there was a time when dip wasactually enjoyed by the middle and upper classes.  Anyone?  Other comments welcome as well, of course.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I borrowed these two ads from Jim Crow History.  According to the site, Bull Durham tobacco was among the most recognizable trademarks in the world circa 1900.  These two ads include caricatures of “foolish looking or silly acting blacks to draw attention to its product”:

durham01

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NEW (Dec. ’09)! Pete W. scanned in and sent along a third ad in the series:

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For more historical U.S. representations of blacks, see these posts: one, twp, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen.

And for examples of modern reproductions of these stereotypes (literally), see these: one, two, three, four, and five.

Interested in the decision to remove the iconic bull’s scrotum in advertisements? Go here.

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.