From anti-smoking activist to archivist and back again: how museum exhibitions on the history of tobacco control are helping to educate a new generation
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University of Alabama, Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A760
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Background and challenges to implementation:
The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society was founded in 1998 as a repository for the comprehensive collection amassed over 30 years by the author and fellow tobacco control activists of photographic, audio, video, newsprint, and internet materials documenting tobacco marketing, the tobacco industry, and the anti-smoking movement over the past century. Continuously maintained since 1974, the collection has served researchers, legislators, students, journalists, public health professionals, and the public alike via a website and a physical trove of over 250,000 original items divided into more than 100 subject categories (eg, the targeting of minorities; tobacco sales in pharmacies; the history of smoking cessation). It is the largest tobacco-related collection at any university.

Intervention or response:
Unique among tobacco control information resources, the Center has produced 12 exhibitions for museums, libraries, universities, and conferences on compelling, ironic, and controversial aspects of the tobacco pandemic and anti-smoking activism.

Results and lessons learnt:
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1964 US Surgeon General's landmark report on smoking and health, the Center created “The Surgeon General vs. The Marlboro Man: Who Really Won?” which comprised more than 130 original artifacts and was displayed at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. Other exhibitions include “When More Doctors Smoked Camels: A Century of Health Claims in Cigarette Advertising”; “Canaries in the Mine: The Flight Attendants' Battle for Smokefree Airlines”; "The American Medical Association´s History of Collaboration with the Tobacco Industry: The Unfiltered Truth"; “Cartoonists Take Up Smoking” at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, DC; and “The World's Anti-Smoking Stamps."

Conclusions and key recommendations:
This illustrated presentation provides excerpts from these exhibitions, some of which are available for use by health organizations to inspire the next generation of anti-tobacco activists. Online versions are also being created.

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