Monday, July 18, 2011

NYC Vintage Image Of The Day: The Women's Smoking Club, 1930

In 1930, the New York-based Women's International Smoking Club hosted its first "smoker." Above, it's as if Joan Crawford and Bette Davis are enjoying a long, luxurious drag of their cigarillos, while engendering the noble cause.

Few women smoked at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was perceived to be a man's habit. Still, many women of the era discreetly used snuff or smoked petite pipes.

In New York, a law was passed in 1908 making it illegal for women to smoke in public, however, in 1920, when women were granted the right to vote (during Prohibition) they flaunted their new freedom by drinking, dancing and even smoking in speakeasies.

By the 1930s, etiquette books advised women not to smoke at a dinner party in front of men, but noted that a good hostess should provide abundant ashtrays and matches for all guests. In 1934, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to smoke in public. From then on, public smoking became prevalent among women.

Oh, how those trailblazing ladies would be amazed to know that today the clock on public smoking has been turned back more than 100 years. In New York, of course, dictator Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it illegal to smoke in "public" places—just like in 1908.

Similar zealots have excised stogies from historic photos and wiped cigs from the hands of beloved period films; while every time President Obama is mentioned as a smoker, you'd think he was a crack addict, for the hysterical media outcry.

It is astonishing to recognize that so many rights that were hard-won nearly 100 years ago have been revoked. Smoking, a legal choice, is now as taboo as a spot of booze was during the Prohibition era.(Primary image: nycvintageimages).