Anti-Smoking Archive Grows!

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By | From the Collections

The archives of the anti-smoking charity ASH, held by the Wellcome Library, have almost doubled in size, with the addition of 80 boxes of newly catalogued material. The new material covers a very interesting period in the fight against smoking, when organisations such as ASH campaigned for cigarette advertising to be banned. It was widely stated that without the sponsorship of tobacco companies, many sports would not be able to afford to continue in the same way. Formula One was singled out as being particularly at risk – just try telling that to Lewis Hamilton!

The picture above is taken from an anti-smoking comic called “Smokescreens”, released in 1992 by ASH and ASH Northern Ireland. In the comic, a teenage brother and sister go to visit their mother in hospital. On the way, they bump into friends who are going to a concert, and it becomes clear that they both smoke regularly. Later, at the hospital, they find out that their mother’s illness is caused by smoking – in fact, just like them, she used to smoke to make herself look more mature. This story is presented by the fictional “Ray Cathode” of “Masters Cigarettes” who boasts that his company “are behind all your favourite sports – snooker, rugby, motor-racing, darts…” and are moving into sponsoring music (such as the concert being attended by the siblings friends). The final two images in the comic show a coughing teenage smoker next to the frail mother in a hospital bed, struggling to breathe through an oxygen mask.

The full catalogue of the ASH archives can be found by searching the Archives and Manuscripts online catalogue. Information about similar material can be found in the Archives and Manuscripts sources leaflet on smoking and tobacco.

Natalie Walters

Natalie Walters is Archives Project Manager at the Wellcome Library. She specialises in the management and curation of born-digital records, and has a worrying knowledge of the history of poisoning.

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One Response to Anti-Smoking Archive Grows!
  • Marlene Bakken


    With all of the funding tobacco control gets from big pharma in a grand marketing scam for their own brand of nicotine, I'm not surprised.
    Smokers die early. How is this 'truth' established? Like this. If, this year, the average life expectancy is 78 and you die at 77 and smoke(d), the year you are missing is ATTRIBUTED to smoking, never mind genetics or the other million every day things that could have made you live one year “less”. However, if you live one year “more”, that extra year is NOT attributed to smoking because the ideology says that smoking kills by definition – so it must have been something else that made you live a little longer, but CERTAINLY NOT smoking.

    Be that as it may, the hard and empirical evidence (no epidemiological attributions needed) shows that the world's oldest are or have been all smokers. To avoid sending the “wrong message” (the “right” one being that “smoking kills”), these people are called “exception to the rule”. But are they all exceptions to that rule, or is it just the rule that is flawed by ideology and beliefs?
    Uber-progressive tobacco control organizations like ASH are NOT charities, they are all about control of a previously free population, nothing less.

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