Yale Medical Library Exhibit Features Historical Tobacco Ads, Anti-Smoking Materials

The Ivy League university uploads a wealth of advertising both for and against tobacco products

The Public Service Announcement, better known as the PSA, is one of the most effective tools for raising awareness about public health problems like addiction or other harmful behaviors. Whether they were commercials on TV or ads put into magazines and public transportation, these images are usually graphic or upsetting enough to stick with the people who see them. After all, they have to combat years, if not decades, of advertising for the products in question which helped to get the people hooked in the first place.

Of these products, tobacco is the most notorious. Once it was discovered that smoking cigarettes was bad for your health, both advertisers and health officials had a challenge on their hands, the former on how to sell a deadly product, the latter to get people to stop consuming it. The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University has created an online exhibit that highlights these efforts, as well as the history of tobacco advertising and anti-smoking campaigns available to the public.

The exhibit contains many of the old tobacco ads for different brands, each of which can be searched for individually. While there are significantly more ads for tobacco products than there are anti-smoking one, their historic value is immense, not just for the history of health communication but also for the field of advertising. After all, these ads convinced whole generations to consume an ultimately deadly product, and still are.

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Images Courtesy of Yale University

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