Selling the (Anti-) Smoking Nurse: Tobacco Advertising and Commercialism in the American Journal of Nursing

Aeleah Soine, Sioban Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the 1920s to the 1950s, the American tobacco industry targeted female nurses to promote cigarette smoking as modern, healthy, fashionable, and safe. While such ads conflicted with the profession's responsibility to protect the public's health, they also offered nurses a long-sought recognition of professional respectability. As a result, nurses increasingly embraced their commercial representation instead of combating tobacco promotion as a public health crisis. Analyzing the gradual rise and abrupt end to the cultural icon of the smoking nurse, this article focuses on the gendered and professional tensions represented through a three-decade conflict between the international nursing leader Lavinia Dock and major American nursing institutions. Complicating broader historical assumptions about women and smoking, this article shows how the tobacco industry gradually co-opted and dismantled the shared gendered vision of emancipation and professionalization among women in nursing, public health, and the women's movement from the early twentieth century.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Women's History
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Arts and Humanities
  • History

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