It's not a stretch to say that cigarettes were a huge thing only a few years ago. And in some parts of the world and even in parts of the US it's still pretty normal to have a smoke. Hence all the public money that goes into anti-smoking PSAs on MTV. But if you think a lot people smoke nowadays, you can’t even imagine how many people used to smoke up until the late 70s and even through the 90s. People smoked cigarettes because it was cool. Cool people smoked. My mom, a person who I never thought would be following the main stream just to be cool, once told me that she started to smoke just because her friends started, so she also wanted to be part of the social group.
Advertisements of any kind – TV, Billboards, and Magazines - were the main reason for the great popularity of cigarettes.
Commercials on TV used to show a lot of beautiful, happy and cool people smoking. It really hooked people into smoking, until the government prohibited ads on TV, censored the cigarette’s packing and obligated the companies to warn about the risks of smoking.
I didn’t live in the 60’s or 70’s – the era that my mom grew up, so I looked up cigarettes ads on YouTube and I really got surprised. Many of the ads are really similar to ads for alcohol used today (beer, whisky, 'girly' forms of Vodka etc). So, the cigarette ads that the government prohibited because they supposedly incentive-ized the use of cigarettes are now used for advertising alcohol. And to be honest, our 'generation' really is based on alcohol. For young people in most parts of the world having fun and being labeled as 'cool' is all based on alcohol. How much you drink and how much you can drink. Forget about trying to be the 'party pooper' by saying you don't drink. Peer pressure forces you to drink the same
ways as cigarettes once and maybe still do. You can't be cool unless you have a great drunk story to tell at parties where you just drink more. It's ridiculous. People die from binge drinking, drinking and driving and not to mention how alcohol plays into the rape culture we have on US campuses and in society in general. The 'fun' that people like now often involves getting drunk so drunk in fact that it's 'cool' to black out.
It's not only advertisements that incentive young people to drink, it's the movies like American Pie and Superbad that tell us if we don't we're automatically not cool and our existence is meaningless. TV shows with cigarettes used to be the same way with TV characters – even the Flintstones – endorsing certain brands on or off air.
Just like smoking, alcohol also has problems associated with its consumption. Alcohol causes many diseases, mainly liver related, drunk driving is a real problem. The number of smokers really dropped after the government intervention and the health risks were revealed. It is still legal, but the whole social power or peer pressure related to cigarettes is not as strong as it used to be. It makes me wonder if alcohol uses the same ways that the cigarette industry used to get into people’s lives and youth culture. It makes me wonder if restraining alcohol and putting major warning labels on the bottles and the health effects of drinking would help our generation to break this alcohol based culture.
Civil Engineer and Technician in Civil Construction from Brazil. Loves learning more and more about Civil Engineering and dreams about giving his contribution to improve Civil Engineering. Favorite hobbies are travelling and solving puzzles that involve science. Believes that we should be the change that you wish to see in the world.