Why the Turk Can’t Get it Up


[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the January 1979 issue of Mother Jones. It has not been textually altered in any way…thus, some of the facts and statements are now outdated.]

Poise, self-assurance, virility, masculine strength. That is what those male cigarette-ad models convey to us as they stroll city streets with ther women companions or round up cattle at the Marlboro Corral. Unlike most other corporations, cigarette companies have often chosen male models to tout their particular product. Whether this is to emphasize the robust flavor of the smokes, to associate cigarettes with virility or to inject a hint of subliminal phallicism, only the copy room knows for sure. But the end result is the same: the association of a butt in one’s mouth with the masculine ideal. However, there is a growing but little-publicized body of research that indicated the association between masculinity and smoking is just he opposite of what the ads imply: namely, a documented statistical connection between tobacco use and male impotence, lower testosterone count and sterility.