Peiss's Argument Summary

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Peiss breaks down the cigarette industry and the waves that coast from its movements within American culture with the deft precision of a surgeon. She peels back the layers of skin to reveal the bloody innards of this deadly product and cuts away the fact from the fiction. In the chapter Engineering Consent, the author dissects the influence on gender that targeted ads by the tobacco companies and the evolution of advertising that sprung from this focus. One such ad by the producers of Lucky Strike echoed those of the cosmetic industry, using women’s identities and vulnerable self-esteem to their advantage with the slogan “For a Slender Figure—Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet” (Peiss 72). The manipulation of the public mind by advertisers…show more content…
The critics of the growing body of studies that pointed the finger at smoking cited the amount of subjects and methodology of those studies as common ways to undermine the reality they pointed to. They did not “constitute ‘proof’ in its scientific, medical, and social definition” nor did they effect consumption according to Peiss (129). It was not until statisticians such as E. Cuyler Hammond and Daniel Horn designed studies addressing issues with a scope of “the largest study population anyone had yet assembled” (145). Only then did some critics change their minds. With this turning point, anti-tobacco research gained steam and by the mid-1950s leading figures in medical science “now argued that the evidence was clear, convincing, and scientifically persuasive” (156). Yet in the face of this evidence while cigarette consumption lowered it still remained. Examining these chapters, the argument expertly crafted by Peiss can be summed up: Americans have been so fully indoctrinated by the marketing from tobacco companies and addicted to the substance they peddle that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many continued to smoke. Today, that issue is still prevalent. Even with science and medicine proving without a shadow of a doubt the connection between cigarettes and disease, the
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