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For some reason, this is very fitting.

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Background Pony #80DA
People were certainly aware of the harmful effects of smoking in the 1940s. The Nazi Party in particular promoted a very strong anti-smoking message, and many Nazi-affiliated doctors were denouncing it because of the health effects they were seeing. Indeed, the three faschist leaders of the time; Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, were all non-smokers.

That being said though, if someone smokes and they don't want to stop, don't fucking harass them about it.
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According to a little bit of research, you're right. People suspected the harmful effects of smoking tobacco in the 1940s, believed it in the 1950s, and it was fully tested by 1960.

So when this advertisement was around, they knew that it was dangerous.

@Background Pony #118A
It makes more sense if you read it as "Ours will screw up your throat, but the competition will do it even worse!" Still, cigarette companies could get away with a lot of blatant BS back in the day. They have to be sneakier now.
Background Pony #64CC
Pretty sure smoking does the exact opposite of guarding against throat-scratch.