The Makin’s of a Nation

Tobacco & World War I

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style….

–“Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag and
smile, smile, smile”

World War I marching song by George Henry Powell
and Felix Powell

From 1914 to 1918, the great empires of Europe clashed in a global conflict that involved more than 70 million soldiers and cost over 16 million lives. Tobacco also went to war, packed in every doughboy’s knapsack. Through patriotic advertising and stepped-up production, cigarettes would supplant cigars and chewing tobacco as the young men’s favorite vice. When the war ended, the soldiers’ physical wounds would heal, but insidious diseases brought about by the increase in cigarette smoking would be a lasting legacy. This exhibition chronicles the use and promotion of tobacco in World War I.