Edward Bernays – Antismoker

My thanks go to Kin_free in the comments for much of this.

Edward Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995)  was one of the pioneers of ‘public relations’ or ‘spin’. His uncle was Sigmund Freud. He wrote several influential books, among them Propaganda (which is freely available online), in which he wrote:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

From History is a weapon:

The propaganda system of the first World War and this commission that he was part of showed, he says, it is possible to “regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies.” These new techniques of regimentation of minds, he said, had to be used by the intelligent minorities in order to make sure that the slobs stay on the right course. We can do it now because we have these new techniques.

From Prwatch:

There is, however, a striking paradox in the relationship between the two. Uncle Sigmund’s “talking cure” was designed to unearth his patients’ unconscious drives and hidden motives, in the belief that bringing them into conscious discourse would help people lead healthier lives. Bernays, by contrast, used psychological techniques to mask the motives of his clients, as part of a deliberate strategy aimed at keeping the public unconscious of the forces that were working to mold their minds.

Characteristically (and again paradoxically), Bernays was remarkably candid about his manipulative intent. “If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it,” he argued in Propaganda, one of his first books. In a later book, he coined the term “engineering of consent” to describe his technique for controlling the masses.

From Wikipedia (my emphases added):

Bernays refined and popularized the use of the press release, following its invention by PR man Ivy Lee, who had issued a press release after the 1906 Atlantic City train wreck. One of the most famous campaigns of Bernays was the women’s cigarette smoking campaign in 1920s. Bernays helped the smoking industry overcome one of the biggest social taboos of the time: women smoking in public. Women were only allowed to smoke in designated areas, or not at all. If caught violating this rule, women would have been arrested. Bernays staged the 1929 Easter parade in New York City, showing models holding lit Lucky Strike cigarettes, or “Torches of Freedom”. After the historical public event, women started lighting up more than ever before. It was through Bernays that women’s smoking habits started to become socially acceptable. Bernays created this event as news, which, of course, it wasn’t[citation needed]. Bernays convinced industries that the news, not advertising, was the best medium to carry their message to an unsuspecting public….

One of Bernays’ favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of “third party authorities” to plead his clients’ causes. “If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway”, he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a survey of physicians and reported their recommendation that people eat heavy breakfasts. He sent the results of the survey to 5,000 physicians, along with publicity touting bacon and eggs as a heavy breakfast.

Joseph Goebbels studied him. In his 1965 autobiography, Bernays recalls a dinner at his home in 1933 where

Karl von Wiegand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. … Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.

Oh, and he also helped overthrow the government of Guatemala in the 1950s.

So, although he’d helped get women to smoke in 1929, guess who he ended up working for towards the end of his long life? From Wikipedia:

After his semi-retirement in the 1960s he worked with anti-smoker lawyer John Banzhaf’s group, ASH and supported other anti-smoking campaigns.

Yup, ASH. Action on Smoking and Health.

And seeing from his photo that he was still in pretty good shape in 1990, it looks like he worked for them for some 30 years – far longer than for anyone else.

So us smokers have been up against Joseph Goebbels’ mentor in his War on Jews. And it shows, doesn’t it? We’ve been pretty thoroughly demonised.

Here’s more evidence (provided by Kin_free) that he worked for ASH.

About Frank Davis

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27 Responses to Edward Bernays – Antismoker

    • Frank Davis says:

      I guess I felt that too. But he died just when the internet was coming into existence, and I’m not sure his kind of PR works there. Because he belonged to an age of one-way broadcast media – newspapers, radio, TV – in which a very few people decided what was broadcast. In the internet era, it’s not one-way broadcast, but two-way or three-way or every-which-way. And, as I was writing only yesterday, the old broadcast media are dying.

      In the new internet era, it’s just not possible to pump out a single message. The internet is essentially conversational, and generates debate. You get to hear the other point of view, which you never heard in the one-way broadcast media. The internet era will bring the death of authority, because authority is something that’s produced by sending the single message: This person is an authority. The internet permits questioning and doubting authority. It’s pluralistic.

      If we have any climate sceptics, it’s thanks to the internet. If we have increasing numbers of smoking sceptics, it’s also thanks to the internet.

      The internet has its logic, I’m sure. But it’s not the same logic as the old broadcast media. Things have moved on. It’s rather like how, back in the middle ages, the invention of printing by Gutenberg et al allowed people to write pamphlets and books which questioned authority (usually the church). Until the printing presses came along, they couldn’t do that. The internet is a new Gutenberg revolution that allows people to ‘print’ stuff at the click of a button, and have it read all over the world 10 seconds later. It’s much, much faster. And much, much better.

      • forcesnl says:

        I completely agree. Of course,

        But I would even like to widen this ‘theory’ (Google translated from an old text I wrote some 5 years ago, with some quick post-editing):

        “The current democracy is some one and a half centuries old. The system
        bears, in spite of repairs, still the characteristics of the time in which it
        was invented: an emerging, emancipating working class, a low
        educational level of the population, a tradition of political elite and
        of communication facilities, compared to nowadays, being very poor.
        It was a top-down construction in which the upper layer, the enlightened political
        people were given a chance to speak through there representatives.
        But after elections the elite could operate four years at its discretion.
        Only lobby organizations such as trade unions and employers could
        somewhat influence during the ride political in the past. The normal, relatively
        illiterate people stood on the sidelines and were busy enough to survive.
        There were, therefore, no provisions in the system, for the people
        to be systematically consulted.”

        All this has changed now. The first effects on politics of the internet era can be seen already. If you check the viewpoints of the Pirate Party (now active in 60 countries worldwide, including the UK and US) you will find that the young generation, grown up with internet, wants more direct democracy using the possibilities that internet provides. Like in the sixties, this new revolution is now first emerging amongst students, but it will grow quickly and end up in a redesign of the classical democracy. I am sure.

        That’s why I am now campaigning for them. It’s a view that is long overdue to be considered.

        My ship will become a pirate ship between September 3 and 10 (national elections on September 12). Polls forecast 1-2 seats, enough for the voice to be heard in parliament.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          I sighted my ship comming into harbor and it blew up and blocked all shipping.
          Of course my comparison is the harbor entrance was actually TC’s Propaganda port and my ship was purposely sunk to bottle up their shit from hitting the press. But then thats our sole purpose and why we have all come together……to fight tyranny!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Frank Im waiting for your thesis on anti-smoking to be nailed to the doors of parliament.

        Its time!

  1. Some other Tom says:

    Indeed, a great post, although I’m familiar with much of it… A couple of other books to check out are, ‘world as laboratory’ by Rebecca Lemov, which sheds light on the origins of social engineering as well as its long history and key players… Then there’s ‘obedience to authority’ by Stanley Milgram. A must read for anyone in this day and age, in my opinion.

  2. waltc says:

    My favorite story on this subject (stop me if I’ve already told it) had to do with a 1930s German experiment conducted by a university psych dept at the request of the propaganda ministry. The purpose was to find out if the German people would blindly obey authority. Using a 4 square block area around the university, the researchers posted signs on all the phonebooths, some reading “Men Only,” some, “Women Only” and watched for several hours to see what happened. Though the would-be phoners of both sexes frequently cocked their heads or frowned curiously at the (patently ridiculous) signs, all but one person nonetheless obeyed and moved on to find a properly gendered booth. The one exception was a female French tourist. (Somewhere I actually have a clipping in my files with the details of the experiment.)

    On the other track here: I’m not sure I’d care for raw populism either. With it comes the dubious tyrannies of majorities and all the stuff our founding fathers sought to avoid. It’s especially dangerous when the vaunted Vox Pop is so easily manipulated.

    I’ll look into the Milgrom book. My own favorite, also titled “Propaganda” is by Jacques Elul.

  3. Rose says:

    So us smokers have been up against Joseph Goebbels’ mentor in his War on Jews. And it shows, doesn’t it?

    Oh yes indeed, I must admit that I allowed myself a small smile when I read that. But they follow a pattern and the simple pattern leaves a trace.

    Whatever is known and whatever new discoveries come along that might cast doubt on their statements, the findings are turned to the complete opposite, dressed up as science and broadcast loudly across the globe.

    I’ve learnt so much I didn’t previously know by reading the latest press release and reversing it, it’s then that you find the real studies that they were trying to obliterate. “Cure” becomes “Cause”, and Cause is shrieked so loudly cure remains lost in the background. Anti-tobacco’s latest study tells you where to look.

    I have a sneaking admiration for this magnitude of deception and it is a great pleasure to (hopefully) help in unravelling it.

    Their propaganda/science is so thin that they are walking on eggshells, but the many layers of eggshells are now so deep that it is still bearing their weight – for now.

    • Rose says:

      I just had an vision of Professor Stanley Unwin
      http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol6iCCgEPQA

    • jaxthefirst says:


      I’ve long adopted the same approach to anything – and I mean anything – that politicians say/state/promise and it hasn’t failed me so far. From the tiniest little generalised soundbite (“We want to help hardworking families”) to the most major public declarations (“British jobs for British workers”) the moment the words leave their mealy mouths you can predict with uncanny accuracy what’ll happen, i.e. in the first example, they’ll bring in policies to help lazy, feckless families and, in the second, they’ll allow companies to outsource as many British jobs as they wish and they’ll give away the rest to floods of people coming in from other countries.

      These days, politicians have such a contemptuous disregard for the voting public that they don’t just “spin” things, or tell “white lies,” or even “distort the truth;” they go for the full Monty – the total, complete and utter lie which is the precise opposite of what they are actually intending to do. But that does make it a very handy way of knowing what their real intentions are before they actually act on them …

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    They sure do hate us:

    While Westerners in general can afford to smoke, the poorest nicotine addicts sometimes buy tobacco rather than food for their families, said the study’s leader, Gary A. Giovino of the University at Buffalo of the State University of New York.

    At least they admit theyre high taxes are causing folks to go hungry!

    Global Update
    Tobacco: Uphill Battle for Antismoking Campaigns in Poor and Middle-Income Countries


    • harleyrider1978 says:

      But if they think smoking is going away in these hard times its actually going to save many budgets in the comming years:

      Governments of poor countries collect $9,100 in tobacco taxes for every $1 they spend on antismoking messages, a Lancet editorial added. In some countries, the tobacco company is government-owned.

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    I think back,when did all this globalism and shit really start. Bernays was on Wilsons staff during WW1 to help propagandize the people. My Grandad was a doughboy in the great war and didnt come back a smoker as he already grew up raising tobaccy in kentucky. But back to wilson and bernays. We have Wilsons failed league of nations and his 13 points if I remember right and he was a lefty progressive back then,the same as now as its these progressives in America who are pushing the bans. But obviously the deception model was long planned before ww1 and the allies seem to be in charge of it even if they were fighting the same folks who carried the same dream……..world control!

  6. Rose says:

    In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

    ‘If you smoke, you stink.’ Denormalisation strategies for the improvement of health-related behaviours: the case of tobacco


    “Denormalisation has emerged as a possible strategy to influence health-related behaviours,particularly in the context of anti-smoking initiatives. Denormalisation strategies aim to influ-ence social norms surrounding the behaviour in question, by making the behaviour less visible and reducing its social acceptability.

    The rationale for this strategy is that our behaviour is in-fluenced by (our perception of) prevailing social norms.

    Making a behaviour less socially acceptable could provide a motivation for individuals to change behaviours and may alsostrengthen public support for other public health measures and interventions.”

    “Anne Lavack defines denormalisation as‘all the programs and actions undertaken to reinforce the fact that tobacco use is not (andshould not be) a mainstream or normal activity in our society … urging current smokers toquit, and thereby conform with the smoke-free majority’ (Lavack 2001).”

    “Denormalisation has been integrated as a goal in a number of broader anti-smoking strategies.It is central to various campaigns in North America (see, for example, California Departmentof Health Services 1998; Steering Committee of the National Strategy to Reduce TobaccoUse in Canada 1999) and Europe (e.g. Russell et al. 2009).

    At the global level, the World Health Organization, whose Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has become a cen-tral example of global tobacco control efforts, has similarly endorsed the denormalisation of tobacco as a central aim in anti-smoking efforts (World Health Organization 2008).”

    “The aim of denormalisation is perhaps seen most clearly in connection with media campaigns that aim to change social norms around smoking.

    For example, a recent anti-smoking cam-paign by the UK’s National Health Service included a video advert that depicts a youngwoman in a bar with a couple of female friends. After exchanging glances with a man acrossthe room, he approaches her. As he leans in closer to speak to her, his smile disappears and helooks disgusted. He points to his (half-full) pint glass to make his excuses and leaves. In thefinal shot, we see the woman, now by herself, smoking a cigarette and looking puzzled, withthe caption, ‘If you smoke, you stink’, as well as information identifying the campaign andlink to a website (entitled ww.uglysmoking.info) for advice on quitting.”

    • beobrigitte says:

      Making a behaviour less socially acceptable could provide a motivation for individuals to change behaviours and may also strengthen public support for other public health measures and interventions

      So it is true then; the “fatties” are the next smokers………

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Another treasure:

        Mississippi Legislature
        2008 Regular Session
        House Bill 282
        House Calendar | Senate Calendar | Main Menu
        Additional Information | All Versions

        Current Bill Text: |

        Description: Food establishments; prohibit from serving food to any person who is obese.

        Background Information:
        Disposition: Active
        Deadline: General Bill/Constitutional Amendment
        Revenue: No
        Vote type required: Majority
        Effective date: July 1, 2008

        History of Actions:
        1 01/25 (H) Referred To Public Health and Human Services;Judiciary B

        —– Additional Information —–

        House Committee: Public Health and Human Services*, Judiciary B

        Principal Author: Mayhall
        Additional Authors: Read, Shows


  7. beobrigitte says:

    So us smokers have been up against Joseph Goebbels’ mentor in his War on Jews. And it shows, doesn’t it? We’ve been pretty thoroughly demonised.

    We most certainly have.

    The scary thing is how easy it was for these people to legalize the demonisation of smokers and how gullible politicians are, even in 2012.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      A short history of the last great denormalization trip!

      We all remember reading about alcohol prohibition,but did you know there was also tobacco prohibition going on before alcohol became such a target of the last nanny staters.
      Our great grandparents lived thru prohibition and the great depression,they also lived thru tobacco prohibition.

      Heres a time line starting in 1900,dont be surprised to see the same thing playing out today nearly 100 years later.

      1901: REGULATION: Strong anti-cigarette activity in 43 of the 45 states. “Only Wyoming and Louisiana had paid no attention to the cigarette controversy, while the other forty-three states either already had anti-cigarette laws on the books or were considering new or tougher anti-cigarette laws, or were the scenes of heavy anti- cigarette activity” (Dillow, 1981:10).

      1904: New York: A judge sends a woman is sent to jail for 30 days for smoking in front of her children.

      1904: New York City. A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in an automobile. “You can’t do that on Fifth Avenue,” the arresting officer says.

      1907: Business owners are refusing to hire smokers. On August 8, the New York Times writes: “Business … is doing what all the anti-cigarette specialists could not do.”

      1917: SMOKEFREE: Tobacco control laws have fallen, including smoking bans in numerous cities, and the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho and Tennessee.

      1937: hitler institutes laws against smoking.

      History has SOOO REPEATED ITSELF! But the smokefree radicals never left they just hid in disguise as the ACS A cure in your lifetime folks and then the chirade was over as they uncloaked! Tossing aside the old time religion of Billy Sunday they became white coated propagandists………………

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Beo look to the UN and its treaties as the culprit,Thats where it all begins in a worldwide healthist movement but healthism is just a tool as it was to Hitler…….Its what else these Globalists have in store for us that Im concerned with. Might it lead to another 3rd reich or its comparable reflection. These are the true threats to everyone…………

  8. smokervoter says:

    John Banzhaf and Edward Bernays collaboration at ASH was certainly a marriage made in hell. I got to wondering who courted who and sure enough wound up at the excellent smokershistory site, a veritable treasure trove of immaculately-researched information. Bernays ended up with a guilty conscience over his womens smoking campaign and hooked up with Banzhaf somehow. He also feinged shock at his accessory role in the Holocaust, ever the phoney baloney PR man. Nobody should believe anything that came out of this ruthless, rudderless man’s mouth.

    So here we have yet another connection between antismokers and the Third Reich. Robert Proctor and Stanton Glantz may need to get together and exchange some more emergency damage control emails. Another bad PR day for their teflon-coated hate crusade.

    I can’t figure out why ASH continued on as such a major force in your country and I never hear much about them over here.

    • churchmouse says:

      Thanks for the tip about smokershistory.com! I’ve not seen it before and look forward to reading it — in depth.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      Possibly competition, SV. Over on your side of the pond you’ve had quite a few loud anti-smoking groups which I think either pre-date ASH as a major force or at the very least were getting active whilst ASH still had their hands full over here. Whereas here in the UK they were pretty much the only anti-smoking group (certainly the only one of any note) in existence for a long time and so were able to “corner the anti-smoking market” pretty much unopposed until such a time as some of the offshoot bandwagon-jumpers appeared, by which time ASH had already climbed to the top of the anti-smoking tree. I think that’s why, when they decided to spread their evil wings beyond the UK, they looked to the likes of Oz and New Zealand rather than the States to widen their “empire.”

  9. smokervoter says:

    Here’s a quote from Bernays’ memoirs: “Had I known in 1928 what I know today, I would have refused Hill’s [an advertiser] offer. In the first place, cancer has been strongly linked with cigarette smoking. Furthermore, I no longer enjoy participating in or watching the kind of lethal competition that fascinated Hill and drove him to so many commercial excesses. With pitiless and ruthless force, he tried to dominate the market and destroy all competition.”

    Kind of like you and Banzhaf set out to destroy the lives of those who choose to smoke, scumbag?

  10. Rose says:

    “History has SOOO REPEATED ITSELF! But the smokefree radicals never left they just hid in disguise as the ACS A cure in your lifetime folks and then the chirade was over as they uncloaked!”


    If you haven’t read this already, I think you really should.

    Morris A. Bealle, a former city editor of the old Washington Times and Herald

    T h e D R U G S T O R Y

    Edited Highlights.

    “Thirty years ago the Standard Oil Company became impressed with the methods of the big packing houses which used, processed and sold every part of the hog but the squeal.

    Their sales research department went ‘way back to the 1860’s when “Old Bill” Rockefeller, the itinerant pappy of John D. (the first) and a patent medicine showman, used to palm off bottled raw petroleum on the yokels as a cure for cancer.

    “Old Bill” was an upstate New York farmer until 1850. He moved to Cleveland then, entered the patent medicine racket and had himself listed as a “physician” in the city directory. In selling raw petroleum in a pretty bottle “Old Bill” did nothing new.

    He merely took a page out of the book of other patent medicine fakirs who were then hawking their wares from the backs of wagons — covered and uncovered. When oil was discovered in northwest Pennsylvania (1850) the jackals of the oil trade found there was more gold in the jeans of the gullible yokels than there was in working for it in the oil fields.

    They began to bottle the raw petroleum and palm it off under various names as a cure for everything under the sun. The popular maladies of the day were liver complaint, cholera morbus, consumption and bronchitis. Among the names given this raw petroleum were “Seneca Oil,” “Rock Oil” and “American Medicinal Oil.”

    “Old Bill” opened up a new field for himself. He called his bottled petroleum “Nujol” (meaning new oil) and sold it to those who had cancer and those whom he could make fear they would have it.”

    “When a German beer hall bum named Hitler began to plan his 1,000-year Reich, the powers-that-were in Germany didn’t actually know that American politicians were going to solve their acute employment crisis by forcing us into the second world war to again save England’s hide and Rockefeller’s oil. But they weren’t taking any chances.

    Germany’s huge dye trust (or chemical cartel) known as the I. G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft, enjoyed a monopoly on all chemical products manufactured in Germany. German IG made an alliance with American Standard Oil in order to control important patents. The general idea was that the two were to pool their processes. This was done — in a one-sided way.

    With the help of Standard Oil the German behemoth prevented American chemists from learning how to make synthetic rubber until after the Japs took the Malayan Peninsula and its vast rubber plantations. This almost lost war for the United States.

    So, in 1939, when it became apparent that Germany would soon be unpopular in the United States, Standard Oil helped Hitler’s Reich cover its American holdings in the drug and chemical field.”

    “When the American doughboys sloughed into Germany, and reached the industrial city of Frankfort, they were amazed to find intact all of the buildings and the huge plant of the German IG Farben Chemical Trust. American aviators, pinpointing their targets, had demolished every other structure in town.

    What the doughboys didn’t know was that the Secretary of War, one Robert P. Patterson, was a Rockefeller lawyer, appointed by President Roosevelt upon Rockefeller orders, fresh out of Dillon, Read and Company. The Dillon-Read concern not only is a Rockefeller subsidiary, but was the banking house that financed German IG Farben and attended to the financial details of forming the American “cover up” firm for the German chemical cartel.

    American aviators, who gnashed their teeth at their orders to miss the biggest target in Frankfort, have never accepted the weak alibi given them from headquarters. Which was that this juicy and IMPORTANT target should be saved because the American Expeditionary Forces would “need an office building” when they got into Germany proper.”

    Chapter 5 The Racket In Cancer Control

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    THANKS ROSE!!!!!

  12. Pingback: The Establishment, Mind-Programming and the EU - UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate

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