"The modern tobacco war," which was triggered by various articles on the hazardous effects of cigarette smoking in popular magazines and newspapers early in the 1950s, is still going on in the 21st century. At the outset of the war, the cigarette industry came under three major attacks: ① Smoking and Health, a "Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service," which admitted "officially" the relation between cigarette smoking and serious diseases like lung cancer and emphysema, ② "the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965," which required cigarette companies to attach "a caution label" to each package, and ③ "the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969," which banned cigarette commercials on TV and radio.
The companies, on the contrary, refuted indirectly the allegation that cigarette smoking was harmful to smokers' health, saying that it had not been proven yet, while they tried to minimize smokers' fears by manufacturing filter-tipped and low-tar cigarettes. They also advertised their products as healthy goods by showing young healthy athletes enjoying cigarettes in printed media or billboards. No one could declare exactly how effective these strategies were, but it was at least clear that the cigarette companies could avoid an extreme downturn in the amount of cigarette production through the 1970s. The American cigarette industry, as a whole, manufactured about 506 billion cigarettes in 1960, about 562 billion cigarettes in 1970, and about 714 billion cigarettes in 1980 despite a small decrease in the percentage of Americans who smoked.
In the 1980s, however, the industry struggled with adverse circumstances again. This time "war fronts" were established around two issues: involuntary (passive) smoking and nicotine addiction (dependence). In 1986 the U. S. Surgeon General of the Department of Health and Human Services, C. Everett Koop, publicized his report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking, in which he declared "involuntary smoking is a cause of disease, incluging lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers." Two years later Koop publicized another report, The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction. In this report he declared that "nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction," so cigarette and other tobacco products were addicting.
The "official" stance of the federal government on the dangers of involuntary smoking and nicotine addiction was the real threat to the cigarette industry, because it flatly denied what cigarette companies had long advocated: "smoking is a voluntary and free activity." Nicotine addiction made smokers keep smoking, which refuted the idea that smoking was a voluntary activity. Also the danger from involuntary smoking made it refutable that smoking could be always and everywhere done freely.
In this paper, I would like to historically examine how involuntary smoking and nicotine addiction had been discussed, and what the Surgeon General's Reports in 1986 and 1988 have meant in the modern tobacco war.