More of What the Doctor ordered, 1937
Wow. Well, my What the Doctor ordered post just, very quickly, became the most viewed post on my site ever. It’s all thanks to Stephen McGann retweeting it – he does play a smoking doctor on Call the Midwife, after all, and therefore the doctor-promoted cigarette advert was rather appropriate.
(This was extra brilliant because I’m such a big McGann fan in general.)
So, inspired by the last post, here’s a bit more smoking doctor stuff from the archives.
Of course, it took a while for the generally anti-smoking sentiment to catch on, especially with doctors. Here’s an article from 1922 where a doctor blames “cheap cigarettes” for a woman’s death, on account of the “large amount of paper used in their manufacture”, not the tobacco or anything. The doctor concluded “It was a great pity that women did not take to smoking pipes.”
But it wasn’t all pro-tobacco. “Is the tolerance of the habit shown by many doctors not owing in some measure to their own indulgence in the habit?” asked the Glasgow Herald in 1924.
And even in 1888, this “smokers are stupid” joke was printed:
And apropos of not much apart from the general cigarette atmos, here’s an advert for the smokers in adversity (advertsity?). It was 1941 and not only was the Blitz happening around you, you had to get by with less tobacco than usual. Here’s an advert being all keep calm and carry on about having to do with 20% less tobacco than before, and urging smokers to stick to their pre-war levels. So smoking must have increased considerably during the war. Understandably.
The volume of hits for the Kensitas cigarette advert inspired me to look a bit deeper into the advertising campaign that the brand ran in 1937. My original advert was from The Mirror, overseas edition, and was based on Kensitas’ statistic that 84% of London doctors who smoked preferred a mild cigarette. That is, as opposed to strong cigarettes, not to no cigarettes at all. It seems like a no brainer to be honest, but in 1937 this was obviously a bigger deal.
I had a nose around the British Newspaper Archive for some more of their adverts and found that there had been a quite extensive campaign. There’s a lot of images with stats for different places and there’s also quite an impressive number of stars of stage and screen lending their faces for the cause, not just Stanley Lupino as in my orignal ad.
I first found this one, in The Lancashire Daily Post. The singer and dancer Miss Binnie Hale is the face of this one, stating that 81% of Preston doctors (who smoked anyway) preferred mild cigarettes.
And next I saw this one, also with Binnie Hale, in The Yorkshire Daily Post. Here, um, 81% of Leeds doctors prefer a mild cigarette:
Now, I’m starting to smell 81% of a rat. Bit of a coincidence, innit?
But no, it turns out that it wasn’t 81% of doctors everywhere. It was, ooh, 81½% in Yorkshire as a whole, as George Robey says:
It was 88% in Liverpool, Miss Yvonne Arnaud tells us (Liverpool winning the most sensible doctors in the country competition, there. In a way):
77% of Angus doctors says Jeanne de Casalis:
I’m wondering if someone at Kensitas made a bit of a mix up with some of these ads now, the place names start to mismatch with the local newspapers.
I’m starting to get all a tizzy with the figures already – but now it gets more specific. Mere integers are not enough to express the data at this point.
It’s 87½% of Birmingham doctors says Winfred Shotter:
85¾% of Durham Doctors:
(I hope you’re not getting bored of all this)
83½% Edinburgh doctors says Joseph Hislop:
86¼% of Manchester doctors says Harry Roy:
It’s 75 and a third% of Belfast doctors says Will Hay (ooh, I’ve heard of him) (Oh, and bad show, Belfast, you have the hardest smoking doctors):
84¾% of Lancashire doctors says the delightful June:
Gearing up for the overall figures now. Getting exciting.
For the whole of England, it’s 84% announces Dame Sybil Thorndike (there’s some class):
For Scotland – 80¾%. according to John Loder:
And….drum roll…..for the entirety of Britain….it’s 83½%, as announced next to Gordon Harker:
Well, there wasn’t much point to all that. I think we have conclusively proved nothing. Except that quite a lot of doctors smoked in 1937.