Article Text

PDF

The Internet Archive
  1. David Simpson
  1. d.simpsoniath.org

    Statistics from Altmetric.com


    Embedded Image

    Switzerland/USA: cutting the bull. In March, a Swiss based internet tobacco sales company, YeSmoke, was ordered by a US court to pay Philip Morris (PM) US$173 million in damages for trademark infringements when it sold PM cigarette brands in the USA from its old internet site, yesmoke.com, and to hand the site over to PM. YeSmoke, formerly called Oatmedia, continues to operate from a Swiss based website, yesmoke.ch, but presumably steers clear of PM’s brands. However, what puzzles health advocates who surf the site, full of righteous indignation about its recent brush with PM’s lawyers, is how it justifies some of its claims. “Stub out the chemicals”, for example, is easier said than done, when each puff of smoke of any cigarette is reported to contain around 4000 of them; certainly, it would be impossible to make the smoke itself “Clean, clear and uncomplicated”, as stated just below the chemicals line. However, the most puzzling slogan on the site must be, “Throw out the bullshit”. If that virtual ingredient of cigarette promotion was indeed thrown out, what on earth would be left?

    Tobacco control advocates the world over will find a wonderful treasure trove in the Internet Archive, a valuable resource of historical films on smoking and tobacco, as well as old cigarette commercials. The archive is a project which aims to prevent internet pages and other digital materials from being irretrievably lost, by building a searchable digital library. Free access is provided to the site’s collections of archived web pages, moving images, texts, audio, and software, one of which is the Prelinger Archives. Founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger, this collection, within the Moving Images section, consists of over 48 000 “ephemeral” films (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur), and aims to preserve and provide access to films of historic significance that have not previously been collated. Within the collection there are a number of early documentaries on tobacco, such as “Tobacco and the Human Body” (Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, 1954) which demonstrates how much was known about tobacco and its health effects in the 1950s, as well as a variety of television commercials for cigarette brands such as Lucky Strike, Newport, Montclair, and Hit Parade, and a short film from Lucky Strike, “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco” on how the makers selected their tobacco, featuring Frank Sinatra. Another gem is a tobacco industry film, “The Sixth Sense”, describing how the American Tobacco Company’s research laboratory was tirelessly researching new ways of improving the company’s cigarettes with its “Sense of Science”—a partnership with the University of Virginia’s medical school to ensure that research “never stops”. The Internet Archive is at http://www.archive.org/.

    View Abstract

    Request permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.