Smoking Without Commercials..

As a longtime reader of the medical men published by the Tobacco Institute. I felt somewhat let down by the government’s report that smoking is bad for the health and so on. Not that I believed everything the Institute was sending me, for I am insufficiently the expert to endorse or contradict the findings of doctors, but I did get the broad impression from their writings that there was nothing like a tobacco addiction to brighten the eye and quicken the step and maintain the smoker in a state of chronic good health. Tobacco was not yet accepted as a specific for various diseases, I gathered, but it would be erroneous to think that it caused or contributed to any of them.

Other authorities argued the contrary. so that the views expressed in the government’s report were not altogether new. But the advance publicity preceding their publication had been so fancy that one had expected something more than a reiteration of what most British and American experts had found against tobacco in recent years. I realize now that was foolish of me, but I did allow the advance ballyhoo to make me think that something smashing was impending. On mulling it over, I began to wonder if some wide prohibition of tobacco advertising might be recommended.

The possibility of no tobacco advertising was fascinating. What would follow? How could the public be informed of the ceaseless triumphs of research so conscientiously disclosed by the cigarette makers in their television commercials?

Without the cigarette commercials, what is perhaps a major area of American life will go into eclipse. No more shall we see the doughty rock-climbers, the speedboat drivers, skin divers, athletes, motor racers, bronc riders rewarding their exertions with lungfuls of cooling, healing, relaxing, stimulating, rich-mild smoke. Blacked out from us, also, will be the whole world of filter research and discovery, the great longterm drive by advertising scientists, which makes the space and moonshot programs seem a paltry show by comparison.

The torch will pass from the grasp of advertising, but it will still be carried by the free and competitive press. Events of this magnitude cannot go long unnoticed, and news gatherers will be quick to accept the challenge. A major wire service will boast that it has beaten all competition in first flashing the discovery of the new filter that automatically includes two puffs of air with every puff of smoke. “Cooler! Richer! Milder!” the report will go, “and Berserk News International was first with it by nineteen and a half minutes !”

But perhaps there will be the reporter who telephones his desk in a rare state of excitement: “I’m on something big!”

“Yeah? What is it?”

“Get this, Chief: a cigarette filter that spins the smoke.”

“We don’t want it.”

“You don’t want it?”

“Forget it. Hop over right away to the Kiwanis lunch.”

All these musings, I realize, may prove premature, for the last word has by no means been heard in the controversy. The cigarette people want to look into it all a bit further, and only a few weeks before the government’s report, came a real earthshaker from the dear old AMA. It was the lead story in the AMA News, and it may well put the whole subject in the cooler for some years to come. “The American Medical Association will undertake,” so the story went, “a comprehensive program of research on tobacco and health.”