How do smokers keep their lips pink?

Sin and vice

Dirk Schindelbeck

To person

Dr. phil., born 1952; Historian, Germanist, cultural scientist and science journalist; since October 2013 member of the research group "PolitCIGs", previously until 2013 lecturer at the Institute for German Language and Literature and at the Institute for Sociology and History at the PH Freiburg. [email protected]

Not so long ago the cigarette had a remarkable potential for promise. There isn't much left of that. Today, even for the self-confessed smoker, daily going to the tobacco shop or to the vending machine is no longer a shopping experience that can still be enjoyable, as it is associated with age control of the person. The packs, too, are anything but a feast for the eyes, since their appearance has been reduced to an aesthetic minimum. And the needy first holds his little box in his hands, the black-rimmed voice of bad conscience whispers in his ear, he is ruining his health, is addicted to addiction, yes, an anti-social being.

The package of unreasonable demands, threats and fears that today's smoker has to endure before, during and after consumption is huge. Of course he will try his best to evade this pressure, but he does not escape the social exclusion that can be seen everywhere in the clusters of smoking people outside the back doors of the factories, on balconies and in dirty corners. His congregation, eyed suspiciously by the world around them in words and gestures, is in a constant struggle to defend themselves - although there are hardly any opportunities left for successful resistance.

In the stranglehold of the medical argument, which tolerates no contradiction, since it has unequivocally proven the causal connection between smoking and lasting damage to the circulatory and respiratory organs, contemporaries who smoke are only left with the role of the feeble character who cannot curb his addiction due to a lack of discipline . To see oneself pressed into such declarations of bankruptcy touches the innermost core of modern people who are used to defining themselves as a self-determined individual, as a free and self-willed personality. To be counted as part of the group of addicts and thus others who are determined by others, hits the bottom of one's self-esteem, as it is almost like a publicly practiced dismantling of personality.

Such self-reproaches even overflow the confessions in online portals where contemporaries provide information about "my greatest vice". In addition to gambling addiction, shopping and eating sweets, "the bad, bad cigarettes" are particularly prominent. Today, cigarette smoking is almost one of the seven "deadly sins". Since the old prohibition table did not yet recognize the addictive substance smoking, it would probably fall under the heading of gluttony - that is, the opposite of the virtue ideal of moderation. In any case, according to today's general social agreement, smoking is definitely a vice, and a heavy one at that.

Transfigured retrospect: smoking in the post-war period

Today, the general verdict against smoking is essentially based on medical findings. His mentality-historical facets have moved into the background. However, they do provide information about its perception in public as the result of a long communication process. This states that smoking has a reputation for being an evil vice today, not least because the positive attributes that paved the way for the cigarette in society in the 20th century can no longer be credibly conveyed for the product. After all, as early as the 1940s there was a finding of permanent health damage from the medical side, but in contemporary public discussion it did not find the resonance and prominence that it has today.

It was precisely this fact that made it possible for the German cigarette industry to successfully sell its products to the public with reference to their particularly high additional benefits. In the 1970s and 1980s, cigarette smoking was still symbolic of modernity and quality of life, overcoming narrow thinking barriers, broadening horizons and increasing social status, advancing from petty bourgeois relationships and behaviors into "the big wide world". Those who joined the smoking community saw themselves rewarded with the attitude towards life of being or becoming a global citizen. This complex of promise, poured into recurring linguistic and pictorial formulas, had manifested itself on the market at the latest with the appearance of the Peter Stuyvesant brand at the end of the 1950s - and as a result even became a power of consciousness in the West German scenario of advancement. This in turn was followed at the end of the 1960s with the worldwide introduction of the Marlboro cowboy as an expression of the "taste of freedom and adventure", the second stage of expansion, which drove out the petty-bourgeois tones that were still attached to the Stuyvesant world of ideas.

In retrospect, the cigarette industry was able to use this strategy for a very long time and with great success to credibly sell what was essentially externally determined consumer behavior as a self-determined experience of expanding consciousness. Since then, however, there has been no real further development of the complex of promise, so that, at the latest with the departure of the Marlboro cowboy, the radical image collapse for the product cigarette took place across the board. Today, the entire pool of images of freedom and delimitation has long since fallen into the hands of outdoor clothing manufacturers. This terrain is unlikely to be regained for the cigarette, if not lost for an indefinite period of time.

In sum, the product cigarette now has a threefold deficit: from a medical and physiological point of view it is a highly suspicious, yes dangerous product, socially seen it will remain outlawed for an indefinite period of time, and its symbolic qualities can no longer convince or even make sense Act.

Golden years after 1900

If the historical retrospect is stretched further than the memories of living contemporary witnesses allow, the image deterioration of the cigarette becomes even more drastic. Over a hundred years ago the cigarette came onto the market as a new smokers product - as a fresh product with a great future. Above all because of its "light" oriental tobacco, it was - in contrast to the heavy cigar - from a medical-physiological point of view in no way questionable; From a social point of view, it was able to achieve great popularity and appreciation in a short time, and symbolically it was convincing with an almost lavish wealth of images on packs, posters and shop window displays. In brands and motifs, these conjured up a previously unknown knowledge of the world and a cosmopolitanism, unfolded cascades of images from the magical Orient to the world of the noble nobility and lifestyle scenes from the international high-class. With such qualities as additional or validity in the luggage, the cigarette experienced a rapid rise up to the First World War.

The beginnings in the early 1860s, when the first Russian immigrants began to make cigarettes by hand in Dresden, were still extremely modest. Up until the First World War, this developed into a flourishing industry in the German Reich with around 400 major manufacturers and 600 family businesses with a total of around 20,000 employees who produced and sold over 8,000 different brands (mostly only available regionally). As early as 1906, when the state had reacted to the rapid growth of the new industry with the introduction of the banderole tax, the cigarette had arrived at the center of society. Due to the increasing use of machines in the production from year to year more profitable, better and cheaper, their sales overtook that of the cigar in 1911. It was constantly opening up new classes of consumers, becoming increasingly attractive to women and thus democratizing consumption.

On the eve of the First World War, the cigarette was regarded as a product of modernity par excellence - a finding which the "Manoli-Post", the customer magazine of the Berlin cigarette manufacturer of the same name, summarized in April 1914 as follows: "The cigarette belongs to us like fine linen Bath, patent leather shoes, tuxedo, like electricity, the car, the airplane and a thousand other things - not just because our time no longer allows smoking to an end of mighty cigars or cleaning cumbersome pipes. Not just because of that The slightly aromatic scent of Turkish cigarette tobacco pleasantly perfumes our rooms and its residents, while cold cigar or pipe smoke smells disgusting; no, I think that the aesthetic factor was also decisive here. The gnawed pipe, the dingy chewed cigar must be held between your teeth and cause the smoker to make a more or less ugly grimace; the light cigarette is appetizing ital and graceful between the lips. "[1]