In the 1950s, the causal link between smoking and lung cancer surfaced in medical journals and mainstream media. Yet the best years for the Canadian cigarette industry were still to come, as per capita cigarette consumption rose steadily in the 1960s and 1970s. In Cigarette Nation, Daniel Robinson examines the vibrant and contentious history of smoking to discover why Canadians continued to light up despite the publicized health risks.
Highlighting the prolific marketing and advertising practices that helped make smoking a staple of everyday life, Robinson explores socio-cultural aspects of cigarette use from the 1930s to the 1950s and recounts the views and actions of tobacco executives, government officials, and Canadian smokers as they responded to mounting evidence that cigarette use was harmful. The persistence of smoking owes to such factors as product development, marketing and retailing innovation, public relations, sponsored science, and government inaction. Domestic and international tobacco firms worked to furnish Canadian smokers with hope and doubt: hope in the form of reassuring marketing, as seen with light and mild cigarette brands, and doubt by means of disinformation campaigns attacking medical research and press accounts that aligned cigarettes with serious disease.
Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, including thousands of industry records released during a landmark tobacco class-action trial in 2015, Cigarette Nation documents in rich detail the history of one of Canada’s foremost public health issues.
Daniel J. Robinson is a historian and associate professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario.