The American Tobacco Company was the largest and most powerful tobacco company until the early 1900s. Several companies were making cigarettes by the early 1900s. In 1902 Philip Morris company came out with its Marlboro brand.
They were selling their cigarettes mainly to men. Everything changed during World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45). Soldiers overseas were given free cigarettes every day. At home production increased and cigarettes were being marketed to women too. More than any other war, World War II brought more independence for women. Many of them went to work and started smoking for the first time while their husbands were away.
By 1944 cigarette production was up to 300 billion a year. Servicemen received about 75 percent of all cigarettes produced. The wars were good for the tobacco industry. Since WWII, there have been six giant cigarette companies in the U.S. They are Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, American Brands, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, and Liggett & Myers (now called the Brooke Group). They make millions of dollars selling cigarettes in the U.S. and all over the world.
In 1964 the surgeon general of the U.S. (the chief doctor for the country) wrote a report about the dangers of cigarette smoking. He said that the nicotine and tar in cigarettes caused lung cancer. In 1965 the Congress of the U.S. passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. It said that every cigarette pack must have a warning label stating "Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health."
By the 1980s, the tobacco companies had come out with new brands of cigarettes with lower amounts of tar and nicotine and improved filters to keep their customers buying and to help reduce their fears. The early 1980s were called the "tar wars" because tobacco companies competed aggressively to make over 100 low tar and "ultra"low tar cigarettes. Each company made and sold many different brands of cigarettes.
In 1984 Congress passed another law called the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act. It said that the cigarette companies every three months had to change the warning labels for the companies to rotate.
As mentioned above it was during WWII and into the 1940s through the 1960s that cigarette smoking really took off. It was during this period that women began to smoke - it was definitely "the thing to do." It was during this period that I attended a college (religious college) where girls were not allowed to smoke. Therefore, my friends and I had to open the dormitory windows (even in the winter) in order to lean out and enjoy a smoke. As it turned out, I really did not care for smoking - and I thought it was really a waste of money.
When moving to Marshall with our young family, I would entertain my women friends at our home in the afternoons for coffee and cookies. In those days we served coffee in a cup and saucer. Most of my women friends smoked. My 4-year-old daughter would go around to each of my friends, as they drank their coffee and smoked, and tell them: "Please don't leave your cigarette stubs in the saucer, because my little sister eats them."
In the early 1980s my father, who was an avid cigar and cigarette smoker as well as chewing tobacco, heeded the surgeon general's warnings about tobacco, and challenged my two brothers and my husband to quite tobacco use along with him. They all met that challenge, for which our family was really proud.
"Since the 1980s, the federal, state, local governments, and private companies have begun taking actions to restrict cigarette smoking in public places. The warning labels were the first step. Tobacco companies cannot advertise cigarettes on television or radio. It is against a law that was passed by Congress in 1971. Many cities across the U.S. do not allow smoking in public buildings and restaurants. Since 1990, airlines have not allowed smoking on airplane flights in the U.S. that are six hours or fewer. State taxes on cigarettes have increased.
As it becomes more difficult for tobacco companies to sell their products in the U.S., they are looking outside. U.S. tobacco companies are now growing tobacco in Africa, South America (Brazil and Paraguay), India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Greece, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic. Fifty percent of the sales of tobacco companies go to Asian countries such as Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan."
Source: History & Economics of Tobacco, the Internet.