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Was Smoking Banned in Public Places Before 1964?

Posted on 21st April, 2021

by Legal Staff

During the last century, smoking was a widely accepted habit, and thereby it was not forbidden in public places, as tobacco companies would advertise their products as safe and even healthy.

As a consequence, people could smoke cigarettes indoors, as well as outside.

Today, there is no federal law concerning smoking in public places and, as a result, each state has a specific set of rules with regard to smoking indoors and outdoors.

It was not until 1995 that the first state, California, enacted a statewide smoking ban for indoor workplaces. Before this law came into effect, people were allowed to smoke tobacco everywhere throughout the state and also throughout the country, as no other state took measures to regulate smoking.

The states that currently ban smoking in workplaces, restaurants, and bars are the following:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Additionally, 3 other states, namely Connecticut, New Hampshire, and North Carolina have strong laws in place with regard to smoking covering all restaurants and bars. Furthermore, hundreds of cities and counties enacted comprehensive laws concerning smoking in public places throughout the United States.

The last century is also known as "The Cigarette Century," as smoking was very popular among every demographic before 1964, when pertinent medical studies concerning the adverse health effects of tobacco use began emerging, raising awareness of the dangers of cigarettes.

In 1964, approximately 40% of people across the country were smokers and smoking was widely accepted, highly prevalent, and not discouraged in homes, taking place in public spaces of all kinds, including hospitals, restaurants, airplanes, and even medical conferences.

Thereby, we are not exaggerating when we say that, before 1964, there was a real tobacco epidemic. In contrast, smokers account for only 20% of the United States population nowadays, as people are aware of the serious diseases they can develop as a consequence of tobacco use.

Tobacco Use Before 1964

Tobacco use, mostly in the form of cigarettes, grew very fast in the early 20th century in the United States with the emergence of technology for mass production and the development of consumer culture and effective advertising and promotion on unprecedented national scales.

However, during this time, there was strong opposition to smoking from certain groups, but these groups were against smoking due to concerns about adverse moral and social impact rather than health reasons.

Moreover, concerns focused on specific groups viewed to be particularly vulnerable to the social and psychological effects of cigarette smoking, such as the youth and women.

Unrestricted tobacco advertising, which was often praising cigarettes for their beneficial health effects, was seen as taking advantage of those who were most vulnerable.

During the first 2 decades of the last century, there were some organized anti-tobacco efforts developed, which were comprised of temperance advocates, religious leaders, and health reformers. They were concerned by the increase in cigarette smoking among youth and believed it to be associated with the abuse of alcohol and narcotic drugs.

Throughout this period of time, 15 states banned the sale, manufacture, possession, or use of cigarettes. Many other states followed and enacted similar legislation, and municipalities imposed additional restrictions on advertising, smoking near school buildings, and women smoking in public.

The First Warning of the Adverse Health Effects of Smoking

The first warnings about tobacco smoking were given by the Surgeon General before 1964. In 1929, Surgeon General Hugh S. Cumming warned about the harmful effects of tobacco use, claiming that excessive smoking caused nervousness, insomnia, and other serious health effects in young women.

The surgeon also warned that smoking could lower the "physical tone" of the nation. Similarly, to numerous physicians of his time, he believed that women were more prone than men to sustain certain injuries, particularly of the nervous system.

Nevertheless, as a smoker, Cumming took no part in extreme anti-tobacco reformers of the time. Although doctors generally did not see it as a considerable health threat for the majority of smokers, there was increasing concern over cigarette advertising during the 1930s and 1940s.

File a Tobacco Claim with the Help of Our Expert Team

Today, the daunting health problems smoking tobacco can result in are well-known, but unfortunately, this unhealthy habit keeps gaining ground despite health threats.

Our team of professionals will thoroughly assess your situation and eventually let you know whether you are eligible for filing a tobacco claim with the companies whose cigarettes you have been smoking.

If you came to struggle with the following diseases as a consequence of smoking and began engaging in this habit before 1964 as a minor, you may be eligible for compensation:

Subsequently, if you qualify for compensation, we will guide you to a specialized attorney so that you can receive the money you deserve for your suffering. For additional information, please feel free to contact us and we will gladly answer your questions.