Several days ago, I saw a photo with something unusual: an outdoor cigarette advertisement.

SpouseMouse and I went to Germany in 2008 and were surprised to find promotional Lucky Strike matchboxes. Of course, they had a health warning on them. Smoking indoors, except in a few designated areas, is banned. Smoking in bars was at the time dependent on the size of the establishment and in what German state it was located.

However, seven years on, cigarette advertising is still allowed. It is possible that this will be a thing of the past if Food Minister Christian Schmidt gets his way.

Yet, it is worth noting that, despite cigarette advertising, fewer young Germans are smoking. EurActiv reports (emphases mine):

it is being ignored that the share of young smokers has been “plummeting” since 2001 and that 2014 reached a “historical low” with less than 10%, Mücke pointed out. In addition, the rate of smoking among young people has decreased more strongly in Germany than in France, Poland, the United Kingdom where total advertising bans have existed for years. From a lobbyists point of view, this shows that a ban on advertising has neither a real influence on the number of smokers nor is it suited for prevention among young people.

Let’s look at those points again:

  • Germany has cigarette advertising;
  • fewer young Germans than ever smoke;
  • comparative smoking rates for other Western European countries where advertising has long been banned are far higher;
  • advertising and advertising bans have little to no effect on smoking rates.

There may well be a reason why Germany has not yet banned cigarette advertising: Adolf Hitler.

Certainly, Hitler was far from the first to restrict tobacco and develop an anti-tobacco programme. In fact, from the early 17th century, a handful of rulers in Europe and Asia condemned or severely punished tobacco use and possession. American Heritage features an excellent essay by Gordon L Dillow which summarises the history of anti-tobacco movements on those continents before detailing those in the United States beginning at the end of the 19th century.

NaziantismokingHowever, none of these — draconian as some were — was as systematic and scientific as the anti-tobacco campaign and legislation in the Third Reich. I wrote about it in 2013, quoting a review of Robert L Proctor’s The Nazi War on Cancer. Black and white posters come from Blogs of Bainbridge (at left) and Inconvenient History (below right).

It is good to see that The Atlantic picked up on the book the following year in ‘The Nazis’ Forgotten Anti-Smoking Campaign’, because I know a History professor who says it never happened.

A brief excerpt from The Atlantic follows:

Nazism was a movement of muscular, health-conscious young men worried about things like the influence of Jews in German culture and the evils of communism,” Proctor says, “but also about the injurious effects of white bread, asbestos, and artificial food dyes.

According to an article in Toxicological Sciences, before 1900, lung cancer was extremely rare worldwide, but incidents of the disease increased dramatically by the 1930’s. This coincided with the growing popularity of cigarette smoking beginning toward the end of the 20th century, but a link was never identified between lung cancer and smoking until Nazi-era scientists made the connection.

Research into the harmful effects of tobacco were funded by the Institute for the Struggle Against Tobacco, which was established in 1941 and funded by Hitler’sNazi anti-smoking motherhood_smoking Inconvenient History Reich Chancellery. The Institute was led by Karl Astel, a doctor, high-ranking SS officer and fervent anti-Semite, according to Proctor.

Among other things, Astel’s institute funded and distributed pamphlets and articles about the harmful effects of tobacco, including a collection of Goethe’s views on the subject. The institute conducted research into the potential damage or mutations that nicotine could cause to the genetic material of the master race.

I posted on American research into the lung cancer phenomenon a few days ago. In short, there is no scientific proof of a connection between cigarettes and lung cancer. However, anyone against tobacco — Nazis included — can be persuaded that manipulated scientific data ‘prove’ causality. This junk science will proliferate. In 1997 epidemiologists strongly supported the continued use of ‘risk factor’ epidemiology, which gives us the frustrating array of contradictory studies and distorted dangers of just about everything. But I digress.

What The Atlantic article leaves out are Third Reich specifics that I cited from the review of Proctor’s book in 2013:

Propaganda Minister Joseph Gobbels was obliged to hide his ciggie whenever he was filmed — anti-tobacco activists succeeded in banning smoking from government offices, civic transport, university campuses, rest homes, post offices, many restaurants and bars, hospital grounds and workplaces. Tobacco taxes were raised, unsupervised cigarette vending machines were banned, and there were calls for a ban on smoking while driving …

It comes as little surprise to discover that the phrase “passive smoking” (Passivrauchen) was coined not by contemporary American admen, but by Fritz Lickint, the author of the magisterial 1100-page Tabak und Organismus (“Tobacco and the Organism”), which was produced in collaboration with the German AntiTobacco League.

If some of these measures appear familiar today, then consider the rules laid down in 1941 regarding tobacco advertising. “Images that create the impression that smoking is a sign of masculinity are barred, as are images depicting men engaged in activities attractive to youthful males (athletes or pilots, for example),” and “may not be directed at sportsmen or automobile drivers,” while “advocates of tobacco abstinence or temperance must not be mocked.” Advertisements were banned from films, billboards, posters and “the text sections of journals and newspapers.”

It sounds remarkably like the present day in the West, which fought Hitler.

Nearer the end of the Third Reich more restrictions came into force:

From July 1943 it was illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to smoke in public.(20) Smoking was banned on all German city trains and buses in 1944, the initiative coming from Hitler himself, who was worried about exposure of young female conductors to tobacco smoke.(21) Nazi policies were heralded as marking ”the beginning of the end” of tobacco use in Germany.(14) …

An ordinance on 3 November 1941 raised tobacco taxes to a higher level than they had ever been (80-95% of the retail price). Tobacco taxes would not rise that high again for more than a quarter of a century after Hitler’s defeat.(26) …

Ultimately:

After the war Germany lost its position as home to the world’s most aggressive anti-tobacco science. Hitler was dead but also many of his anti-tobacco underlings either had lost their jobs or were otherwise silenced. Karl Aster, head of Jena’s Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research (and rector of the University of Jena and an officer in the SS), committed suicide in his office on the night of 3-4 April 1945. Reich Health Fuhrer Leonardo Conti, another anti-tobacco activist, committed suicide on 6 October 1945 in an allied prison while awaiting prosecution for his role in the euthanasia programme. Hans Reiter, the Reich Health Office president who once characterised nicotine as “the greatest enemy of the people’s health” and “the number one drag on the German economy”(27) was interned in an American prison camp for two years, after which he worked as a physician in a clinic in Kassel, never again returning to public service. Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel, the guiding light behind Thuringia’s antismoking campaign and the man who drafted the grant application for Astel’s anti-tobacco institute, was executed on 1 October 1946 for crimes against humanity. It is hardly surprising that much of the wind was taken out of the sails of Germany’s anti-tobacco movement …

Germans began smoking freely again. Although there are many German non-smokers today, most of them take a balanced view of tobacco use as they do with alcohol. To rant against smoking or reinstate a Third Reich tobacco control programme would be anathema.

I read all the comments following The Atlantic article and recognised the names of two of my readers, Harleyrider1978 and Michael J McFadden. The anti-smokers they politely and factually countered could respond with nothing other than deplorable ad hominems.

Tobacco Control concerns many of us — including non-smokers — who object to state intrusions on individual and private property liberties hard fought for by our antecedents in two World Wars.

In closing, Hillary Clinton was the First Lady who banned smoking in the White House. The following graphic comes from a reader at No Quarter, an American political site comprised of ex-Clinton supporters who are now mostly independents. Note the similar sentiments voiced, then and now, by Adolf Hitler and Hillary Clinton:

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpt1/v/t1.0-9/12115903_10153326426944296_7490413031598449294_n.jpg?oh=371327449d15bcfb887833232bba464c&oe=56CE7D47

Whilst smoking was unlikely to have been the subject of either statement, the communitarian view elucidated by these two leftist politicians is the same one that has given us Tobacco Control.

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