Historical Cartoons on Smoking
- Smoking has always been an easy target for cartoonists. The image of the billowing clouds of acrid smoke and black globs of chewing tobacco flying toward a rancid spittoon evoke tropes of filth, corruption, and deceit. So does a sketch of the fat cat political boss or indifferent factory owner chewing a cigar and lording over the working dregs of the society.
- Anti-smoking cartoons have also been a staple of the cartoonist’s repertoire, featuring characters such as the busybody reformer chastising the public or the grim image of the reaper or other spirit of addiction claiming the souls and draining the life of the afflicted.
- Satirical magazines such as Ballyhoo and MAD Magazine were rife with parodies of smoking advertisements and the social faux pas of smoking, especially when tobacco was in the headlines such as after the release of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking Health in 1964 and the litigations surrounding the Master Settlement Agreement in the 1990s.
First published in 1931 Ballyhoo featured one-off cartoons of a scandalous of humourous nature, and parody articles and advertisements. The humor magazine became so popular (reaching a circulation of two million readers) it began to attract actual advertisers. The editors of Ballyhoo had been reluctant at first to accept advertisements but insisted that any placed ads in the magazine would need to meet the satirical style of the fake advertisements. As a result, many of the real advertisements became indistinguishable from the send-ups.
Ballyhoo would discontinue publication in 1939, with two efforts to restart the publication between 1948 and 1954. Ballyhoo‘s spiritual successor would be MAD Magazine, which would adopt Ballyhoo’s magazine-style format the year before Ballyhoo went out of print for the last time in 1954.
Founded in 1952 as a comic book published by Entertaining Comics, and in 1955 MAD became a satirical magazine with an erratic publication schedule between 4 and 7 times a year. Like its predecessor, Ballyhoo, MAD did not take advertising during much of its run which allowed the magazine free reign to satirize products including tobacco. MAD Magazine also used its parodies to take on the tobacco issue with scathing sendups like “Six Minutes Looks at Smoking” (a take on Sixty Minutes) and MAD Interviews The Tobacco Executive Of The Year (A parody of Forrest Gump).
MAD Magazine was a significant influence on the style and humor employed by Doctors Ought to Care in its counter advertising campaigns against the tobacco industry.