The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators on-line course is always excited to share the writing assignments of our participants with the public. The essays may involve their own struggles with tobacco or the struggles of family members, but they are always heartfelt and deeply personal. In the end it makes you question why anyone today would want to use tobacco knowing the information we have available on its health effects. We thank Dr. Juan R. Céspedes from Miami-Dade County Public Schools for allowing us to share his essay.
The Un-American Lie:
Methods Through History Used to Distort Facts and Promote Tobacco Products Through Channels That Would Be Unacceptable Today
As an avowed free-marketer, the instincts of this writer as a young twenty-something was that all advertising, including cigarette advertising, should be left to the market forces of supply and demand. As Dr. Monica Barratt (2016) might ask, “What if you live on top of a bakery and you like cakes?” It follows that you should
eat as much cake as you like and is available. That was until Uncle Jack died a prolonged and miserable death from throat cancer. Jack started smoking a young teen in Cuba, a habit that he continued when he came to the United States (see appendix “A”: The Cuban Tobacco Connection). He found American cigarettes milder than the Cuban brands he was accustomed to. It followed that they were somehow “better” or “not as bad” (Uncle Jack’s own words). Jack was unaware of the ingredients baked into the “cake” he was inhaling. Uncle Jack had been a smoker for most of his life, and although he had quit the addictive habit when he was in his early fifties, its effects came back to kill him by the time he was in his sixties. For the purposes of this paper, the writer will focus on the cigarette merchandising during the decades of the 1930s to the 1960s.
You can read the remainder of Dr. Céspedes’ essay in our December Tobacco Prevention Training newsletter HERE.