“Cartoonists Take Up Smoking”

August 8, 2022

CCHS Physician Creates an Exhibition about political cartoons on smoking.

Dr. Alan Blum, founder and director of The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, has curated a new exhibition for the center that highlights the work of newspaper editorial cartoonists and the issue of smoking.

Blum, also the Gerald Leon Wallace, MD, Endowed Chair of Family Medicine for the UA College of Community Health Sciences, said he created the “Cartoonists Take Up Smoking” exhibition to continue to spread awareness about the health impacts of cigarette smoking.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reports that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S., nearly 1 in 5 deaths, and causes 90% of all lung cancer deaths.

The “Cartoonists Take Up Smoking” exhibition retraces the battles over smoking, as seen through the eyes of the nation’s newspaper editorial cartoonists, in the nearly 60 years since a U.S. Surgeon General report concluded unequivocally that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer and other diseases.

Blum began work on the exhibition in the mid-1990s and it originally featured the work of 80 editorial cartoonists. The physical version was at the National Museum of Health and Medicine and traveled to eight other cities from 2004 to 2008. Blum has spent the past three years digitizing, updating and expanding the exhibition to include more than 100 artists.

View the exhibition