In the United States, not many women smoked before 1920. Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, changed that.
Bernays’s proudest accomplishment was the creation of a nation of female tobacco addicts in the 1920s. … Bernays, who was well-connected in the media, asked photographer friends to take photos of slim, pretty women smoking. He also paid physicians to go on record stating that cigarettes were an important part of a meal because the smoke “disinfects the mouth and soothes the nerves.”
The quote above comes from the book Made by Hand by Mark Frauenfelder, editor of Make magazine. He goes on to explain other things Bernays did such as persuading restaurants to add cigarettes to the desert menu and staging public events to make it look like women smoked openly.
The campaign was quite effective.
By the end of 1928, American Tobacco’s annual revenue increased by $32 million (about $400 million in today’s money, adjusted for inflation) over the previous year.
Frauenfelder tells this story to illustrate how our desires are manipulated by advertising. Advertisers of the same era taught us “that homemade clothing was shameful, home-canned food unsanitary, and old cars symbols of failure.” Frauenfelder contends such advertising campaigns killed that America’s do-it-yourself ethic.
Related post: Smoking