Dr. Cheryl Krasnick Warsh receives research grant to study the history of cigarette advertising aimed at women

October 23, 2000 - 5:00pm

Malaspina University-College history instructor Dr. Cheryl Krasnick Warsh has received a research grant to study the history of cigarette advertising aimed at women.

It is one of five research projects announced by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), recently, aimed at helping Canadians quit smoking and to reduce the risk of cancer.

Dr. Krasnick Warsh will receive $54,308 over three years to research the marketing of tobacco products to women in North America, 1920 - 1950.

"Targeted advertising has contributed to teenage girls and young women becoming the fastest growing segment of the population in Canada and the United States to take up smoking, and, as a result, more women now die of lung cancer than breast cancer," said Krasnick Warsh.

"To counter the influence of tobacco industry ads, policy makers in North America are turning to researchers for a better understanding of the history of advertising targeting women," she said.

Krasnick Warsh said that few North American women smoked until the 1920s, when the tobacco industry began to target the female market through advertisements in popular women's magazines.

"Then, as now, advertising portrayed cigarette smoking as an essential part of a chic, happy lifestyle, implying that cigarette smoking is liberating, rebellious and adult," she said.

The study will look at the tactics of the tobacco and advertising industry and gather data and images from leading English and French-language popular magazines, from accessible tobacco corporation records and industry trade journals, and from the archives of key players in the advertising and public relations industry.

The information gathered with the employment of Malaspina University-College students as research assistants will be used to support legislative controls of tobacco industry promotion, and it will be used in the production of educational materials for middle school and high school students.

"If young people were made aware of the fact that the claims of cigarettes being agents for weight control, non-conformity and liberation are not recent, but were directed to their mothers, grandmothers, and even great-grandmothers as well, perhaps more potential or beginning smokers could be persuaded to confront these claims critically, rather than to simply absorb them," she added.
The research findings will be publicized through articles in academic journals, in presentations at public health and women's studies conferences, and in a textbook on women's health to be published by Broadview Press.

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