The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act is a United States federal law, passed in 1970, designed to limit the practice of smoking. It required a stronger health warning on cigarette packages, saying "Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health". The act also banned cigarette advertisements on American radio and television.
The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act was one of the major bills passed by the United States Congress in response to U.S. Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry's 1964 report that found that lung cancer and chronic bronchitis are causally related to cigarette smoking. Congress previously passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act in 1965 requiring that all cigarette packages sold in the United States carry a health warning. But after a recommendation by the Federal Trade Commission, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act amended the 1965 law so that the warnings are made in the name of the Surgeon General.
One of the major advocates of the cigarette advertising ban was the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC argued that since the topic of smoking is controversial, numerous TV and radio stations continued to break the Fairness Doctrine when airing these commercials because they did not give equal time to the opposing viewpoint that smoking is dangerous.
The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act was introduced into Congress in 1969, but it was not until April 1, 1970 when U.S. President Richard Nixon signed it into law. The actual cigarette advertising ban did not come into force until January 2, 1971, as per a compromise that allowed broadcasters to air these commercials during their telecasts of college football bowl games on New Year's Day.
In 1981, the FfC reported that the health warning labels as mandated by the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act had little effect on American smoking habits. Congress therefore passed the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984, requiring more specific health warnings.
The tobacco industry has begun to use a variety of other marketing tools and strategies to influence people and attract new customers. In particular, ads targeted to adolescents affect their perceptions on the image and function of smoking. In 1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that more children 5 and 6 years old could recognize Camel cigarettes' Joe Camel mascot than could recognize Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone. Camel increased its adolescent customer base dramatically, from less than 1% before 1988 to more than 13% in 1993.