Today, it’s common knowledge that cigarettes are bad for your health, but as these vintage ads show, it used to be common for tobacco ads to resort to manipulation, half-truths, peer pressure and other tactics to brainwash people into believing that cigarettes were OK.
1) Baby’s Advice:
I don’t know which is more disturbing: the baby’s articulateness or his appalling lack of medical insight.
2) Smoking Is Like Cheese:
This bizarre ad paints a flimsy parallel between cigarettes and…cheese? If cheese is good for you, apparently, then so much smoking.
3) Father’s Day:
This year, give the gift of death.
4) Subliminal Pornography?
5) Smoke Like a Chimney? Who Cares!
…Because a clean-tasting mouth is all you need to worry about.
6) Got a Cold? Smoke This!
“Change to Spuds whenever: your throat is dry–parched, you have a cold or sore throat, your voice is hoarse, you develop smoker’s cough, your taste is thick in the morning.”There’s obviously nothing wrong with you; there’s something wrong with your cigarette.
7) Cigarettes Make You Skinny:
Corpses do tend to lose weight quickly.
8) Licorice-Flavored Cigarette Smoke:
This ad actually comes from a licorice company seeking to convince tobacco companies to use licorice in their cigarettes with the inspirational message that…children like to eat second-hand smoke?
9) Doctor Recommendation:
This shameless ad proclaims that medical science will allow the five-year-old girl in the pic to live a longer, healthier life than her mother. And now that you trust your doctor, why not smoke the same cigarettes he smokes? Bonus pseudo-science tidbit: only your body’s “T-Zone” — your throat and taste buds — can determine your cigarette of choice. (So suck it, doc.)
10) Dentist Recommendation:
…You’ll rot your teeth much more slowly with Viceroys.
11) An Ounce of Prevention:
To its credit, this ad boasts no claims that its cigarettes cure anything…they just “prevent” a bunch of stuff.
12) G.I. Joe Cigarette Comics:
Certainly not aimed at kids (ahem), this colorful comic teaches readers about not only the wonders of smoking, but also the intricacies of chemical warfare and the functionality of Japanese slurs. T-Zone in the house!
13) Smokin’ Santa:
Instead of cookies and milk, try leaving a pack of Lucky Strikes for St. Nick.
14) What Every Woman Should Know About Her Nerves:
This condescending ad figures the best way to discuss a woman’s need for cigarettes is to compare her to…a dog?
15) Do You Smoke After Strenuous Exercise?
“First a cigarette, then a shower.” Then cancer.
16) For Those With Keen Young Tastes:
Nowadays, Big Tobacco shies away from overt marketing to teens, but back in the day, there were ads like this one, which declares a love for young smokers for their “eager, unspoiled tastes.” And the fact that they have 50-plus years of cigarette purchasing ahead of them — if they’re lucky.
17) Statue of Liberty’s Birthday:
This ad rides on the coattails of the Statue of Liberty’s 75th anniversary by paralleling the statue’s significance with that of the cigarette’s low-tar, high-taste content. Stay classy, L&M.
18) “Throat Protection”:
In this 1937 ad, legendary actor Gary Cooper proclaims, “As my throat means so much to me in my business, it’s plain common sense for me to prefer this light smoke.” He died of lung cancer in 1961.
19) Foot-In-Mouth Disease:
In 1969, the American Tobacco Company took out this full-page ad protesting the New York Times‘ requirement that cigarette ads contain a health warning and tar/nicotine content statistics. The ad claims, in part: “Sure there are statistics associating lung cancer and cigarettes. There are statistics associating lung cancer with divorce, and even with lack of sleep…we are not going to knuckle under to the Times or anybody else who tries to force us to accept a theory which, in the opinion of men who should know, is half-baked.” Oops.