The U.S. government and tobacco have typically enjoyed a laissez-faire relationship prior to the second half of the 20th century when concerns about the effects of smoking were raised by the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health in 1964. America included snuff in the excise taxes championed by Alexander Hamilton in 1794, and such taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and import-export duties funded the government for much of the nation’s history. After the Civil War, many of these taxes were repealed, except for those on tobacco, and in 1921 Iowa passed the first state excise tax on tobacco.
More states would pass excise taxes and become dependent on the revenue tobacco generated, but efforts would also be made to regulate smoking in workplaces in the name of clean air, most notably airlines. These efforts culminated as the states began to sue the tobacco industry. The hypocrisy of indignation toward smoking and dependence on excise revenue was laid bare in the cartoons of the nation’s newspapers, not to mention the corruption of politicians eager to take tobacco largess.