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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