Cigarette smoking moved into the mainstream of American culture during World War I. Before the war began in 1914, cigarettes represented less than seven percent of total tobacco consumption in the
Following their success in passing legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol across the nation, activists like Lucy Page Gaston had set their sights on outlawing “the little white slaver”. However, with the advent of the war, attitudes towards cigarettes changed as many people came to view them as a means of offering a respite from the horrors of battle. National organizations such as The Salvation Army which had previously strongly opposed cigarettes joined with others like The American Red Cross in actively distributing free smokes to soldiers at camps and hospitals both at home and overseas. The YMCA went to great lengths to deliver cigarettes to soldiers on the front lines even pressing into service a dog whom they named “Dobut” to race through the trenches carrying cartons of smokes on his back.
"Dobut" on a mission for the YMCA
to deliver cigarettes to soldiers on the
WWI may have served as a catalyst in making cigarettes the ‘national smoke’ but other forces were also at work during the period. Among these were new tax laws, improved manufacturing processes and better distribution networks. But it was the coming of the “Jazz Age” which perhaps had the most influence as the cigarette became the perfect “freedom torch” for the emerging youth culture in
Bibliography: Cigarette Wars by Cassandra Tate, Oxford University. Press, 1999