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The End Of A TV Era

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The very last one ever seen on television appeared at 11:50 PM on January 1st, 1971 on the Johnny Carson Show. After that they were never seen again – a TV commercial for cigarettes. Because it was on this day in 1970 President Richard Nixon signed a lawn banning cigarette ads on TV and radio.

It took a lot of money out of the hands of broadcasters because at that time tobacco companies spent more money on broadcast advertising than any other industry.

Health studies had come out as early as 1939 about the link between cigarette smoking and cancer and heart disease. The Surgeon General came out with a report in the mid ‘60’s about cigarettes and a link to emphysema and lung cancer. Congress began regulating tobacco companies with heavy taxes and forced them to put warning labels on cigarette packs. Then later forced them to use even stronger warnings.

Presidents who smoked cigarettes included Taft, Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Hoover and Eisenhower. President Ford liked to smoke a pipe. Presidents Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Carter and Clinton lit up cigars following state dinners. Kennedy also liked cigars and had his press secretary buy up as many Cuban cigars as he could before the 1961 trade embargo against Cuba.

Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson owned tobacco plantations and smoked cigars.

There’s a story that in 1978 after performing for President Carter in 1978, Willie Nelson snuck up to the roof of the White House and smoked what’s called an Austin torpedo – in other words, weed.


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