Recruiting women smokers: the engineering of consent

J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 1996 Jan-Apr;51(1-2):63-6.


A range of social forces contributed to the effective recruitment of women to cigarette smoking in the crucial period between 1900 and 1940. Cigarette advertisers and public relations experts recognized the significance of women's changing roles and the rising culture of consumption, and worked to create specific meanings for the cigarette to make it appeal to women. The cigarette was a flexible symbol, with a remarkably elastic set of meanings; for women, it represented rebellious independence, glamour, seduction, and sexual allure, and served as a symbol for both feminists and flappers. The industry, with the help of advertisers and public relations experts, effectively engineered consent for women as smokers. The "engineering of consent" has a role to play in smoking cessation, since negative meanings for the cigarette can be engineered as well.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / history*
  • Female
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Smoking / history*
  • United States
  • Women's Health*