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Cigarette Wars: The Triumph of "The Little White Slaver" [Hardcover]

Cassandra Tate
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 11, 1999 0195118510 978-0195118513
We live in an age when the cigarette industry is under almost constant attack. Few weeks pass without yet another report on the hazards of smoking, or news of another anti-cigarette lawsuit, or more restrictions on cigarette sales, advertising, or use. It's somewhat surprising, then, that very little attention has been given to the fact that America has traveled down this road before.

Until now, that is. As Cassandra Tate reports in this fascinating work of historical scholarship, between 1890 and 1930, fifteen states enacted laws to ban the sale, manufacture, possession, and/or use of cigarettes--and no fewer than twenty-two other states considered such legislation. In presenting the history of America's first conflicts with Big Tobacco, Tate draws on a wide range of newspapers, magazines, trade publications, rare pamphlets, and many other manuscripts culled from archives across the country. Her thorough and meticulously researched volume is also attractively illustrated with numerous photographs, posters, and cartoons from this bygone era.

Readers will find in Cigarette Wars an engagingly written and well-told tale of the first anti-cigarette movement, dating from the Victorian Age to the Great Depression, when cigarettes were both legally restricted and socially stigmatized in America. Progressive reformers and religious fundamentalists came together to curb smoking, but their efforts collapsed during World War I, when millions of soldiers took up the habit and cigarettes began to be associated with freedom, modernity, and sophistication. Importantly, Tate also illustrates how supporters of the early anti-cigarette movement articulated virtually every issue that is still being debated about smoking today; theirs was not a failure of determination, she argues in these pages, but of timing.

A compelling narrative about several clashing American traditions--old vs. young, rural vs. urban, and the late nineteenth vs. early twentieth centuries--this work will appeal to all who are interested in America's love-hate relationship with what Henry Ford once called "the little white slaver."

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A brief yet detailed history of the fluctuating popularity of the cigarette in America and of the reform movements dedicated to snuffing it out. According to journalist and historian Tate, in her first book, when James B. Duke created the modern A merican cigarette industry in the 1880s, the cigarette was demonized as a symbol of moral degeneracy. Only decadent bohemians or unwashed immigrants smoked ``coffin nails.'' The stigmatized cigarette was an easy target for Progressive Era reformers. In 18 99, Lucy Page Gaston founded the Anti-Cigarette League to lobby for the prohibition of smoking. An evangelical Protestant, Gaston forged strong alliances with other reformist groups, such as the YMCA and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Attacking t he cigarette as a moral blight, Gaston deemed smoking a ``gateway'' vice that led to alcoholism, narcotics addiction, gambling, and criminality. Many industrial leaders, notably Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and John Harvey Kellogg, refused to hire smokers b ecause ``they simply could not be trusted.'' Fifteen states banned the sale of cigarettes before 1917. Yet WWI changed everything. In sending troops to Europe, Congress prohibited alcohol and prostitution near army bases but allowed the ``lesser evil'' of cigarette smoking. Billions of cigarettes were thus shipped overseas as army rations. The cultural impact of this policy was immense, according to Tate, serving to ``transform what was once a manifestation of moral weakness into a jaunty emblem of freedo m, democracy, and modernity.'' Throughout the postwar period and beyond, cigarettes became identified with Hollywood glamour and the loosening of traditional values, especially among women. Antismoking advocates were mocked as Puritan killjoys. The cigare tte had won the battle of acceptance, but, as Tate deftly points out, the cigarette wars continue, with medicine rather than morality now leading the assault. An entertaining account of a little-known episode in American cultural history, and a keen remin der that the ever-embattled cigarette has risen from its ashes more than once. (17 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


"This fine study...provides excellent perspective on a crucial era as background for today's battles."--Library Journal

"In this original and engaging book, Cassandra Tate traces the first major anti-cigarette crusade--the battle of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries against the 'little white slaver'. Cigarette Wars offers a fascinating and important narrative of the failure of this 'other' prohibition movement as Americans and their new consumer culture embraced the cigarette. As Tate so successfully demonstrates, the battle over smoking provides an excellent vehicle to understand central values in American society and culture."--Allan M. Brandt, Harvard University

"Anyone interested in today's escalating political and legal battle in the long war against the cigarette will applaud Cassandra Tate's timely Cigarette Wars. At last, the first half-century of the bitter cultural war has its historian, or narrator, who has produced a book distinguished by graceful prose, vivid characters and events, and sure-footed judgement. This is narrative history at its best, a story whose lessons for today Tate draws together at the end. Warriors Koop and Kessler, meet Lucy Page Gaston, and the zeal-deflating powers of historical perspective."--Otis L. Graham, Jr., University of North Carolina at Wilmington

"Cassandra Tate has written an engaging, thorough, and illuminating account of early efforts to stamp out cigarettes in America. Cigarette Wars lends much-needed historical perspective to the ongoing controversy over smoking."--Jacob Sullum, author of For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health

"I've read this book twice and it still amazes. The New York Times condemned nicotine's 'disastrous effects' in 1879? Anti-tobacco campaigns are more than a century old? Cigarettes were thought perilous because of their link to sex? Cigarette Wars surprises, informs, and shakes convictions (or mine, at least) in prose as lucid as it is engaging. It's a hell of a story."--Paul Solman, Economics Correspondent, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195118510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195118513
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,874,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Research and Well Written to the Topic April 25, 2014
This book is about the creation of a cigarette market within the United States by the Duke family and others of the southern Tobacco industry. It is an excellent educational tool and should be found in middle school and high school libraries within the United States. It is educational from several points of view. It demonstrates how perverse the Tobacco industry was and still is within the United States. It is a source of history and economics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It gives some of the history of the populist movements of the nineteenth century.

This book can also act as a Psycho-educational reference for people teaching antismoking classes and therapy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Little White Slaver. January 3, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book I picked to read as part of a Capp political class. The book starts off with a few personal tales from the author that I thoroughly enjoyed. The rest of the book takes a chapter by chapter approach to different topics around the production, distribution and use cigarettes in America from different groups such as troops in World War I to how the anti-smoking lobbyist failed to capture the attention of mainstream American in the mid 1930's. I find it shocking I bought this book for $3 and some cent FROM and now its like $40. Over all it is a good read for those interested in what is now one of the most villianized legal products in America.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Cigarette Wars April 8, 2001
By alex1J
I found this book to be quite useful and helpful while I was conducting research for a paper on the tobacco industry. It was insightful, and helped me further my understanding of the topic. However, the author does have a bias point of view, and anyone using this book for research should definetely counter it with content from the other side.
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