Tobacco product use has been discouraged in the United States and abroad for centuries. In 1604, King James I published A Counterblaste to Tobacco, describing smoking tobacco as, “a custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, [and] dangerous to the Lungs”. However, in contrast to strict regulations found elsewhere in the world, tobacco was brought to the United States as a cash crop. The 1880s saw the invention of an automated cigarette-making machine, which paved the way for cigarettes to become the predominant form of tobacco with the start of World War I. The twentieth century also experienced the first major outcry against tobacco in the United States. Though medical concerns were suggested, the first tobacco prohibition movements in the United States were primarily driven by religious and moral motivations. Groups including religious leaders, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Non-Smokers’ Protective League of America supported efforts for prohibition of tobacco. However, strong public resistance against alcohol prohibition also led to the repeal of tobacco restrictions, and by the 1930s these restrictions had all but vanished. One of the lesser known consequences of World War II was that German smoking research and corresponding social change were not acknowledged by the rest of the world. In the 1930s and early 1940s, Germany conducted an aggressive anti-smoking campaign based on medical research from the 1920s and 1930s, which elucidated the carcinogenic effects of smoking. Germany banned smoking in the workplace, imposed cigarette taxes, restricted advertising and farming, and implemented programs to eliminate smoking. George Seldess, a noted foreign correspondent in the 1920s turned press critic in the 1930s, wrote how America’s press catered to Big Money at the expense of the general welfare. In 1941 he published his first cigarette story: a report about the 1938 study by Dr. Raymond Pearl of Johns Hopkins University that showed that heavy cigarette-smoking severely limited one’s life span. By 1941, this 1938 study should not have been news. But that is exactly why Seldes wrote about it – while several scientific journals had published Pearl’s study at the time it came out, Seldes pointed out that almost no mainstream American daily carried the story despite the fact that it had been carried on the AP wire. The REASON for this widespread omission was obvious to Seldes: newspapers did not want to offend tobacco advertisers, one of their biggest sources of revenue. Tobacco users are not the only individuals exposed to the harmful effects of smoking. Tens of thousands of nonsmoking Americans die each year from illness attributed to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked to such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, sudden infant death syndrome, and lung cancer. Secondhand and sidestream smoke (smoke from the burning end of a tobacco product) contain over 50 carcinogens. According to the US Institutue of Medicine (IOM), secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk for cardiovascular disease by 25% to 30%. The 2006 Surgeon General’s report on the health effects of smoking also concluded that secondhand smoke exposure contributes to premature death among nonsmokers (or involuntary smokers), particularly children.38 Additionally, the report found that there is no safe level of exposure. For more, read the Institute of Medicine report – Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence – National Academies Press; 2009 ( This is clipped from the 1935 Betty Boop cartoon — Judge for a Day – Betty is the cleaner a the local courthouse. On the bus ride to work one day, she grows tired of all the liberties her fellow citizens take. She falls asleep and dreams about what she’d do if she were the judge. Among her decrees: a thoughtless smoker learns about second-hand smoke the hard way, and an obnoxious celebrity impersonator is rewarded by having his ears blasted with imitations of Tarzan and the Shadow. The entire cartoon is available at the Internet Archive.

effects of secondhand smoke

Source: Second Hand Smoke 1935 Betty Boop