Stamps That Might Have Been

This undated mock-up of a never-issued anti-smoking stamp was a gift from Postmaster General William Bolger to Joseph A. Califano, Jr. In January 1978 Califano became the first US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to announce the launch of a vigorous government anti-smoking campaign.  Califano’s outspokenness against tobacco use alienated politicians from tobacco-growing states and is believed to have been a major reason for his dismissal by President Carter in January 1979.  Bolger served as Postmaster General from March 15, 1978 to December 31, 1984.

Mr. Califano provided the images to the Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society in 2014.

“200th Anniversary Of The Tobacco Industry”

Prototype of US postage stamp (circa 1959) commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the oldest tobacco company in the United States, P. Lorillard.  The origin of this stamp (acquired by the Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society in an online auction) is unknown, and no such stamp was ever issued.
Circa 1959

The third of the four postmasters general appointed by President Ronald Reagan in the second term of his administration was Preston R. Tisch, chairman and part owner of Loews. Under Tisch Loews had acquired Lorillard (maker of Newport cigarettes) in 1968. Lorillard became an independent company in 2008, two years after Loews had been found guilty, along with Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, of racketeering under the RICO statutes. The ruling by US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, which was upheld by the US Supreme Court, found that “Defendants have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.”

“Tobacco Stamps: Quite a Collection”

This issue of Philip Morris Magazine, a widely circulated free promotional periodical published in the late-1980s and early-1990s, included a pictorial of stamps from around the world that celebrate tobacco growing (Costa Rica, Cuba, Ghana, Greece, Jamaica, and the former Rhodesia) or the tobacco industry (Austria, The Philippines). Also included was a US postage stamp of Franklin Delano Roosevelt with his iconic cigarette holder (1982, to commemorate the centenary of his birth).

May-June 1989

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