NEW YORK — If a recent article in the Science section of The New York Times is any indication, the idea that the history of the tobacco industry in the United States has been nothing less than perfidy has taken hold among the socially conscientious. Titled “Tracing the Cigarette’s Path From Sexy to Deadly,” the article, by Howard Markel, M.D., recounts how cigarette makers kept insisting that smoking is no “health risk” for fully 30 years after the surgeon general, the top U.S. health officer, declared it was, in 1964.
What caught my eye, though, was not the changing ethos the title of the article blared so much as the two old cigarette ads reproduced to accompany it. The main ad comes with a photo of three people in what appears to be a doctor’s well-appointed office: to the right, a genial, smiling, middle-age white-clad man of the kind that the word “doctor” might have conjured up once upon a time; at center, a girl to whom he is listening; and behind her, to the left, a young, smiling, well-dressed woman with a hat — evidently the girl’s mother.
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