In 1964, the pro-smoking, German scientist Helmuth Aschenbrenner argued that anti-smokers were suffering from 'pyrophobia,' or fear of fire. Specifically, they were suffering from 'fear of the 'big fire' or atom bomb."
Details from Robert Proctor in The Nazi War on Cancer (1997):
After the war, Helmuth Aschenbrenner continued on as secretary general of the International Association for Scientific Tobacco Research. In the March 1964 issue of the London journal World Tobacco, the Bremen tobacco apologist is cited suggesting that "before reports on smoking and health are taken seriously [the reference is to the 1964 U.S. surgeon general's report], those making the reports should have psychiatric certification that they are not suffering from pyrophobia (fear of fire)." Aschenbrenner is taken to have proven that "tobacco antagonism often springs from a morbid (and often unconscious) pyrophobia—a phenomenon whose many manifestations include suppressed fear of the 'big fire' or atom bomb." See "International Perspective on Smoking and Health," World Tobaco, March 1964, pp. 19-20.
On a somewhat unrelated note, here's a news item from 1981 about a young woman who was also suffering from fear of the 'big fire'.
Scott French, The Complete Guide to the Street Drug Game (1976):
One of the heroes of the Hashbury days was Sergeant Sunshine, a San Francisco cop who became upset at a system where you could easily buy a gun but get arrested for smoking a harmless vegetable. On April 14, 1968, Sgt. Richard Bergess demonstrated his feelings by lighting up a joint on the courthouse steps. Hippies threw a carpet of flowers before the cop, who was promptly arrested by agents in the crowd. Needless to say, this was Sgt. Bergess' last day with the San Francisco police.
He served six months in jail, and subsequently became a plumber.
A search of the patent records turned up a 1994 Chinese patent (CN1106283A) for these 'toothache-killer cigarettes':
The toothache cigarette is prepared from paniculate swallowwort root, dahurian angelica root, asarum herb, European verbena verb, turtle shell, honeycomb and tobacco shreds through mixing and grinding the first six, mixing with tobacco shreds, rolling into cigarettes or loading in sealed box or bag. Smoking it can immediately stop toothache with effective rate of 98% as the active components in Chinese-medicinal materials are released when heated.
I wonder what happens if you smoke them when you don't have a toothache. Would your mouth go numb?
Vanguard cigarettes, which came on the market in 1959, were advertised as containing no tobacco tars, no nicotine, and no arsenic. So what did they contain? It was a mystery substance called 'Fibrila'.
The FDA examined a sample of Fibrila and determined it was a blend of "sugar cane bagasse, licorice and corn silk." But mostly corn silk.
The 1959 "Lonely Man" TV ad for Strand cigarettes is rumored to be the greatest advertising flop in UK history. Because it seemed to say, "If you smoke our cigarettes, you may become a lonely sad sack wandering the streets at night."
In extreme cases, ill-judged advertising can kill a brand stone dead — even if the ad is well-made and memorable. Such was the fate of cigarette brand Strand back in the long-ago days when tobacco products could be advertised on UK television. In 1959 Imperial Tobacco's subsidiary W.D. & H.O. Wills, a firm able to trace its roots in the business back to a tobacconist's shop in Bristol in the 1780s, launched Strand with a high-profile TV advertising campaign supported by posters, press advertising and coupons that could be redeemed for free packs. The TV commercial, devised by copywriter John May at British agency S.H. Benson, saw actor Terence Brook smoking while roaming the rain-drenched strees of London in stylish trench coat and trilby hat...
The style of the protagonist and soundtrack to the commercial appealed to the public. Once it went on air people began getting in touch to find out if the theme tune was available to buy as a record. Sensing an opportunity, Cliff Adams and His Orchestra booked some recording studio time and laid down the track, The Lonely Man Theme, for release as a single. In 1960 The Lonely Man Theme broke into the Top 40...
Undeniably, the advertising campaign earned Strand tremendous recognition. As Winston Fletcher writes in his book Powers of Persuasion: The Inside Story of British Advertising 1951-2000, 'Public awareness of the brand and its advertising rocketed to over 90% within weeks. This was unprecedented and has rarely if ever been surpasssed.' It was a brilliant achievement, but one with a fatal flaw. Despite the high awareness levels delivered by the campaign, hardly anyone was buying the product.
The reasons why revolved around how the Lonely Man was perceived. Many viewers found the focus on loneliness uncomfortable. If the man was reliant on a packet of smokes for company, did this mean he was a bit of an oddball unable to sustain friendships? Was he an addictive personality, craving nicotine above human company? Could he be on his own because of a failed relationship or even due to bereavement? Might he be depressed?...
trying to position a new tobacco brand around loneliness — rather than something much more positive and aspirational, such as individuality — was doomed to failure. With sales failing to take off despite the high level of standout the advertising achieved, Strand was soon withdrawn from the market.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.