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Free Content Tobacco policies in Austria during the Third Reich

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND: The anti-smoking stance taken by Adolf Hitler, coupled with Nazi support for research on smoking and lung cancer and campaigns to discourage smoking, have encouraged pro-smoking groups to equate tobacco control activities with totalitarianism. Previous work has described the situation in Germany.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the situation in Austria, also part of the Reich after 1938.

DESIGN: Iterative analysis of documents and reports about the situation in Austria in the 1930s and 1940s, supplemented by a review of Reich legal ordinances, party newspapers, health behaviour guidelines issued by Nazi party organisations and interviews with expert informants.

RESULTS: In contrast to the situation in Germany where, albeit to a much lesser degree than is commonly believed, some anti-smoking policies were adopted, the Nazi authorities in Austria made almost no attempt to discourage smoking and the Austrian tobacco company worked closely with the Nazi authorities to ensure that supplies were maintained.

CONCLUSION: Especially when looked at in the Austrian context, the much-cited link between anti-smoking policies and Nazism is a gross over-simplification. This purported link should not be used to justify the continued failure to act effectively against smoking in Germany and Austria.

Keywords: Austria; Germany; tobacco control

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

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