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Decline in Cigarette Smoking Since the 1980s

Added 29 of July 2009 (3174 views)

Gone are the days when a grinning Joe Camel, cigarette propped between his lips, dominated highway billboards and the Marlboro Man and his lasso graced the back of nearly every newsstand magazine.

In 1964, the first Surgeon General's warning, which claimed that cigarette smoking leads to cancer, was issued, and in 1971, it became illegal in the U.S. to advertise tobacco products on the radio or on television. Once tied to special-interest groups and major public figures, tobacco companies, which were strong and prominent in the 1960s and 1970, have lost support from political figures and are now being subject to regulation by the Food And Drug Administration.

Radio and television have always been popular mediums for advertising, but in the last twenty years, with the aid of the Internet and other creative locations that anti-smoking messages, put forth mainly by non-profit agencies, are placed, such as U.S. bus shelters and even on buses themselves, anti-smoking ads have become more prevalent.

In the 1980s, Hollywood contributed its efforts to the U.S. anti-smoking campaigns. Models such as Brooke Shields appeared in nonsmoking ads looking silly to persuade people that smoking with equivalent to making poor, unhealthy choices and that not smoking promoted health and beauty. One popular television ad featured R2D2 from the movie Star Wars.

In November 1998, the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, an agreement between four major tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states allowed the states to settle their Medicaid lawsuits. In exchange, the tobacco companies agreed to stop certain marketing tactics and pay some states annually to compensate for the medical costs of treating people with tobacco-related illnesses. With some of the money, a new anti-smoking group, the American Legacy Foundation, launched certain campaigns such as "Truth" whose TV ads rebel against the tobacco companies, who claim it's sophisticated and cool to smoke. Priding themselves on simply presenting facts related to tobacco use, the Truth campaign states on its website that its aim is not to demonize smokers and tobacco companies, just to give kids information about the dangers of smoking.

As of July 2009, 24 states, including New York, Illinois, Ohio, and Vermont, have passed smoking bans in all enclosed public places, including restaurants and bars. Wisconsin will also pass a statewide ban in 2010. Eleven other states have enacted partial smoking bans which limits smoking to certain establishments. Anti-smoking efforts seem to be effective across the U.S., as smoking-related deaths have decreased since the 1980s.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, deaths from coronary heart disease in adults ages 25-84 living in the U.S., dropped from 542.9-266.8 per 100,000 from 1980-2000. Smoking, among other factors, contributes to coronary heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society, there was a 16% decrease in lung cancer deaths among men from 1991-2003. There was a 10% cancer rise in women simply because rates of women who smoked dropped more recently than those of men.

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2009 Smoking Statistics, All rights reserved.