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Changes in the focus of cigarette advertisements in the 1950s
  1. Department of Cancer Prevention, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics
  2. Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  3. Elm and Carlton Streets
  4. Buffalo, New York 14263, USA;
  5. (TLS)
  6. (AH)
  7. Department of Psychology
  8. State University of New York at Buffalo;
  1. Dr A Hyland.

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Editor,—Scientific evidence and concerns about the hazards of smoking increased in the early 1950s,1 and in 1953 cigarette consumption declined considerably for the first time since the Great Depression.2 Executives from the leading cigarette companies met on 15 December 1953 to address those developments. Previously, tobacco companies routinely advertised on health claims. At this meeting they agreed that their own “advertising and competitive practices had been a principal factor in creating a health problem”3 which may have contributed to the decline in cigarette consumption by implying cigarette smoking posed health risks. Therefore, it is believed that the companies formed an agreement to stop marketing their products based on health claims. Some feel this has decreased the incentive for tobacco companies to develop safer products. We examined the content of cigarette advertisements in the 1950s to determine whether or not there was a decrease in the use of health claims subsequent to the 1953 meeting.

A sample of cigarette advertisements was taken fromTime and Lifemagazines, two of the most …

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