Big Tobacco in the Big Apple

How New York City Became the Heart of the Tobacco Industry
…and Anti Smoking Activism


About the Exhibition

Welcome to the Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society and the exhibition, Big Tobacco in the Big Apple: How New York City Became the Heart of the Tobacco Industry…and Anti-Smoking Activism. There is too much to view and listen to in a single visit, so you are encouraged to explore the material over several viewings. Click on any image to enlarge it. The enlarged image will then appear as part of the gallery of images in that section, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the left or right arrows. To return to the section page, click anywhere around the image or on the X icon just above the image and to the right. When you click on the audio introduction in a section of the exhibition, there will be a delay of a few seconds, and you may need to click twice. Please refer to the illustrated exhibition key and the list of section headings for guidance.

All of the items in this exhibition come from the collection of Alan Blum, MD, founder of the University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society (CSTS). A few sections, notably “Billboards,” “On the Sidewalks of New York,” and “In Transit,” are based on Dr. Alan Blum’s presentation, “A History of Cigarette Advertising in New York City” at Health Commissioner Tom Frieden’s first Tobacco Roundtable, held at Gracie Mansion on May 9, 2002. The section on “Anti-Tobacco Efforts” is based on Dr. Blum’s presentation, “Defeating Big Tobacco in the Big Apple: How New York City Became an International Model for Tobacco Control Activism,” at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, March 21, 2015, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The idea for this exhibition originated in 2016 after curators of the Museum of the City of New York (MOCNY) rejected Dr. Blum’s proposal to assist in creating a small new section to the museum’s permanent, evolving exhibition, Activist New York*, on the history of anti-smoking activism in New York City and to donate original items from his collection to the museum. (See his letter of August 2, 2015 to MOCNY curator Sarah Seidman, “Smoking in public places… is not among the activist causes included in the exhibition,” in the concluding section of Big Tobacco in the Big Apple, “Where Things Stand.”)

*Explore the drama of social activism in New York City from the 17th century right up to the present. In a town renowned for its in-your-face persona, New Yorkers have banded together on issues as diverse as civil rights, wages, sexual orientation, and religious freedom. Using artifacts, photographs, audio and visual presentations, as well as interactive components that seek to tell the story of activism in the five boroughs past and present, Activist New York presents the passions and conflicts that underlie the city’s history of agitation.”
Lady Liberty Smoking - Stayskal Cartoon

Disclaimer: “Big Tobacco in The Big Apple” is copyrighted 2018.
Comments, criticisms, and corrections are welcome. Contact ablum@ua.edu for permission to use any of the images in this exhibition.

This exhibition is intended to be viewed at 1920 x 1080 resolution, and is best viewed in Chrome or Firefox

© Copyright - The Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society