This collection focuses on the history of and relationship between the tobacco industry and New York City. Specifically, it explores the impediments and opponents in the arduous quest to implement seemingly basic health protective clean indoor air measures, including not only the financial clout of the tobacco industry, but also the fear and foot-dragging within health coalitions. The collection also elucidates economic, cultural, and mass media factors that affect debates on anti-smoking measures and advertising bans for a legal product. Lastly, it retraces the hard-fought battles over three decades that led New York City to become a role model for cities around the world in reducing tobacco use and promotion. This collection as a whole spans over 100 years of research.
The Center’s exhibition, “Big Tobacco in the Big Apple: How New York City Became the Heart of the Tobacco Industry…and Anti-Smoking Activism,” is based almost entirely on items from this collection.