Northern Illinois University Press

Advertising Sin and Sickness

The Politics of Alcohol and Tobacco Marketing, 1950–1990

Pamela E. Pennock

Drugs and Alcohol series

“Meticulously researched. A splendid book that is sure to find interested audiences in many academic fields, as well as in activist circles.”—Business History Review

“The author quite rightly sees this history as an important element in the unfolding reaction to consumer culture in the United States and the uneasiness sometimes associated with the growth of marketing to children.”—James Gilbert, University of Maryland

“Researched in fascinating detail ... a valuable and well-argued addition to the literature.”—Addiction

Temperance advocates believed they could eradicate alcohol by persuading consumers to avoid it; prohibitionists put their faith in legislation forbidding its manufacture, transportation, and sale. After the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, however, reformers sought a new method—targeting advertising.

In Advertising Sin and Sickness, Pamela E. Pennock documents three distinct periods in the history of the national debate over the regulation of alcohol and tobacco marketing. Tracing the fate of proposed federal policies, she introduces their advocates and opponents, from politicians and religious leaders to scientists and businessmen. In the 1950s, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and other religious organizations joined hands in an effort to ban all alcohol advertising. They quickly found themselves at odds, however, with an increasingly urbane mainstream American culture. In the 1960s, moralists took backstage to consumer activists and scientific authorities in the campaign to control cigarette advertising and mandate labeling. Secular and scientific arguments came to dominate policy debates, and the controversy over alcohol marketing during the 1970s and 1980s highlighted the issues of substance abuse, public health, and consumer rights.

The politics of alcohol and tobacco advertising, Pennock concludes, reflect profound cultural ambivalence about consumerism and private enterprise, morality and health, scientific authority and the legitimate regulation of commercial speech. Today, the United States continues to face difficult questions about the proper role of the federal government when powerful industries market potentially harmful but undeniably popular products.

(2007) 290 pp., illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-368-5
cloth $36.00

Pamela E. Pennock is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Michigan—Dearborn.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Health, Morality, and Free Speech
Part One: The Failed Fight to Ban Alcohol Advertising, 1947–1958
1. Temperance and Mass Society
2. The Industries' Regulatory Response
3. Legislative Battles: Politics and Rhetoric
Part Two: The Battle to Regulate Cigarette Marketing, 1960s
4. Emergence of the Postwar Antismoking Movement
5. The Warning Label Debate
6. The Next Push: Restricting Advertising
Part Three: The New Temperance Movement and Alcohol Marketing Restrictions, 1970s and 1980s
7. The Political, Legal, and Scientific Context of Regulation
8. Policy Contests: Warning Labels and Advertising Controls
Conclusion: The Elusive Quest for Restraints
Selected Bibliography

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-368-5
cloth $36.00
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