give those nerves a good rest

In the course of my archival research, I come across many smoking references among the twentieth-century materials. These usually take the form of stylish advertisements for cigarettes or tobacco in journals or magazines. In the 1940s the emphasis was on smoking as a down-to-earth, ruggedly masculine pursuit: at this time around 80% of men and 40% of women smoked.


By the late-1960s, the (male) smoker had become an international playboy…misc014

…with the Peter Stuyvesant brand keen to position itself at the centre of a ‘new world of fun and excitement’ in 1969, as the following details indicate.


misc016There are also occasional voices from the other side, whether promoting patented methods to stop smoking such as the Victor Treatment advertised here in 1948 (‘get back strong nerves, increased Vital Power’)…

'Sent in plain wrapper. Post free.'
‘Sent in plain wrapper. Post free.’

…or print materials offering healthy-living advice, such as this 1962 leaflet full of practical diet and lifestyle tips for the would-be non-smoker – published just at the point when the British government was starting to take note of research papers highlighting the health risks associated with smoking.

'...right now I'm actually breaking the smoking habit!'
‘…right now I’m actually breaking the smoking habit!’
'Tonight I have chosen to stop smoking...'
‘Tonight I have chosen to stop smoking…’

All of these chance discoveries in the archives remind us that smoking was a mainstream and accepted part of social and leisure life in Britain throughout much of the last century.


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