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Historical Cartoons on Smoking

  • Benjamin Franklin’s drawing in 1754 of a snake cut in pieces and the caption “Join or Die” is considered America’s first political cartoon.
  • The first illustrated periodical, Leslie’s Weekly, was launched in 1853 by engraver Frank Leslie. At Leslie’s Weekly, then at Harper’s Weekly from 1862 to 1882, Thomas Nast, America’s greatest and most feared cartoonist, created trenchant artworks satirizing politicians and businessmen, inevitably depicted as corpulent and smoking a cigar.
  • In 1877, the nation’s other leading cartoonist, Joseph Keppler, began publishing the first full-color magazine Puck. Its motto “What fools these mortals be!” was borrowed from Shakespeare’s blithe spirit in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”). After Keppler drew a series of cartoons of a US Senator dipping snuff (powdered tobacco inhaled in the nostrils), snuff boxes became associated with senators’ public image.
  • Publications of anti-tobacco groups of the 19th century and early-20th century featured heavy-handed cartoons demonizing smoking and “Lady Nicotine” with images of skulls and snakes.
  • By the 1890s Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal were publishing daily political cartoons. As newspapers became the major source of information about current events, editorial cartoonists became enormously influential.
  • Comic strips were another newspaper innovation. Some cartoonists such as Rube Goldberg (“Mike and Ike”), Clare Briggs (“Danny Dreamer”), Bud Fisher (“Mutt and Jeff”), Windsor McKay (“Little Nemo”), Tad Dorgan (“Indoor Sports”) became celebrities who endorsed tobacco products.
1869 01 30 Punch Nicotina Cartoon 1

“Sancta Nicotina Consoliatrix, The Poor Man’s Friend”

Cartoon in Punch
January 30, 1869

1919 Satterfield Cartoon Reformer 1


Bob Satterfield (1875-1958)
The Cleveland News

1872 11 02 Harpers Weekly Nast Cartoon Save Me From My Tobacco Partner 1

“Tweed, Greeley, Sands & Co. Tobacco and Snuff Factory”

Thomas Nast
Harper’s Weekly
November 2, 1872

“Swell struggling with the cigarette poisoner”

September 23, 1882

1927 The New Yorker Not A Cough in a Car Load 1

“Something is always taking the joy out of life”

Cartoon by Clare Briggs in advertisement by P. Lorillard Tobacco Company for Old Gold cigarettes
The New Yorker

1913 10 18 Sat Eve Post Cartoonists for Tuxedo 1

“The Men Who Put the Fun into Your Daily Life”

Advertisement by the American Tobacco Company for Tuxedo pipe tobacco
Saturday Evening Post
October 18, 1913

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n.d. Goldberg Cartoon Lucky Strike 1

“Professor Butts’ idea for an automatic device for emptying ashtrays”

Reuben “Rube” Goldberg
Circa 1929-1931

“The Ancient Order of the Glass House: ‘My Boy, shun the deadly nicotine'”

Reuben “Rube” Goldberg

1948 Sat Eve Post Rube Goldberg for Lucky Strike 1

“A few words on humor”

Magazine advertisement by the American Tobacco Company for Lucky Strike cigarettes, featuring cartoonist Rube Goldberg

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