Join 3,552 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Cigarette TV Commercials
February 6, 2014 7:18 PM   Subscribe

On January 2, 1971, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act went into effect. In addition to adding a stronger health warning to cigarette packs, it banned cigarette advertising on radio and TV in the United States. (MLYT)

Here are some cigarette commercials from before the ban went into effect.

As cool and as clean as a breath of fresh air.
Fred Flintstone knew that Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.
Lucky Strikes under the microscope.
Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.
More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette.
Lucy and Desi kept their smokes locked up in the safe.
John Wayne liked a good smoke when he wasn't on camera.
He'd walk a mile for a Camel.
Save the Raleigh coupons!
Lucky Strikes square dance.
Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro Country.

Of course, just because these commercials are banned in the U.S. doesn't mean that they are banned everywhere.
posted by double block and bleed (47 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
You've come a long way baby.
posted by HuronBob at 7:30 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


If you look through magazines from the 60s you'll find a lot of ads that feature full page images of women with black eyes and the "us tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!" motto. Running into one in this day and age is seriously jarring.
posted by Ferreous at 7:30 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I was telling someone the other day that I feel like society's ability to successful stigmatize smoking through things like advertising bans (among other things) was almost too successful. When I see people smoking electronic cigarettes -- in airports, restaurants, movie theaters -- it's incredibly jarring for me personally. I feel like I'm wanting to say to someone "Is this bad or is it good? Make up your mind!"
posted by scunning at 7:30 PM on February 6


The most effective ads for cigarette commercials I see now are when I'm pumping gas at my self-serve station. They're posted on the gas pumps advertising 54 bucks/carton.

That'll scare most folks away.
posted by chuckiebtoo at 7:30 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Everything changed when Draper wrote that letter.
posted by 4ster at 7:35 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I started smoking on a solo trip from Michigan to Miami in 1968...I was going down to spend the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years in college... Somewhere about Atlanta (driving an old VW beetle) I started to fall asleep at the wheel. I bought a pack of cigarettes, because the magic of tobacco had been preached to my young brain for years... it was obviously the stimulant that would allow me to make it to the tip of Florida...

I quite smoking about 15 years ago, there's no doubt that the impact of that habit will shorten my life. Fuck the tobacco industry and the ad-men that promoted it...
posted by HuronBob at 7:39 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Still my favorite cigarette commercial
posted by clarknova at 7:48 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Question for smokers or people who have smoked in the past: Is there an actual, noticeable difference between different brands of cigarettes?
posted by jcreigh at 7:49 PM on February 6


I only smoke Chesterfields because my doctor recommended them for my "T-zone".
posted by telstar at 7:49 PM on February 6


I started smoking when I was about 17 or 18, because my brothers all did it and it just seemed like a thing that needed doing, and because I liked the smell of their rolling tobacco. I'll be honest, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction probably had a bit to do with it too.

Last few years I tried quitting a few times - it was getting crazy expensive, at nearly $40AU for a pouch of tobacco - and did all the things that people recommended you do. Carr, patches, e-cigs, toothpicks, gum, whatever. My chief impetus for wanting to quit was that I was running out of breath way too easily for a guy only 34 years old, and, yeah, the cost.

Anyway, finally saw success by taking up the still-tobacco-but-nowhere-near-as-terrible habit of Swedish snus. Was able to use snus to quit smoking immediately. I still think about having a cigarette from time to time - especially when watching episodes of True Detective - but for the most part, snus has proven to be more than adequate for keeping me off the cigs.

Good stuff. Y'all should try it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:52 PM on February 6


Different brands do taste different, yes.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:52 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I only smoke Chesterfields because my doctor recommended them for my "T-zone".

That's T for 'Taste' and T for 'Throat'.
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:53 PM on February 6


Question for smokers or people who have smoked in the past: Is there an actual, noticeable difference between different brands of cigarettes?

Yes, an enormous difference. Some are way more chemically than others. Some use high-quality tobacco while others use absolute garbage. Some burn too quick, some aren't constructed as well (tobacco falls out), some are more filter than smoke.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:53 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Ounce for ounce that Flintstones ad above is more effective than any single thing I know at showing just how much our culture changed in the span of a couple of decades. It's like something from another planet.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:55 PM on February 6


I only smoke Chesterfields because my doctor recommended them for my "T-zone".

The tricky part is figuring out which end of the couch to light.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:58 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Question for smokers or people who have smoked in the past: Is there an actual, noticeable difference between different brands of cigarettes?

Oh God yes -- I realized after high school that the reason Camel advertised so heavily to children was that they were the only ones who would be willing to smoke those cigarettes (I switched to Lucky Strikes in college).

Also, some of it is part of the habit aspect of addiction; you get used to it. It's like how in high school I would chain smoke but not buy 100s because they just feel wrong. I think part of it is brand identity and part of it is ritual and part of it is that it just becomes an aspect of your life so that doing anything differently feels strange.

Former smoker as of a few months go, still not really happy about it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:06 PM on February 6


The ban on cigarette advertising was so specifically worded that for years afterward tobacco companies marketed "little cigars", "cigarillos" and the like: basically slightly cigar-like cigarettes. And when the wording changed slightly to cover those, a really weird product that looked like tobacco jerky called "Backwoods Smokes" ("How can anything that looks so wild taste so mild?") came out and continued to be advertised on television until they banned pretty much all tobacco products.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:08 PM on February 6


Oh God yes -- I realized after high school that the reason Camel advertised so heavily to children was that they were the only ones who would be willing to smoke those cigarettes (I switched to Lucky Strikes in college).

Hey now, those filterless Camels weren't so bad! But they didn't come close to the old Chesterfields. Man, those things.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:10 PM on February 6


Hey now, those filterless Camels weren't so bad

The Lucky Strikes I smoked in college were unfiltered (I started college in 2002. I was an idiot.) so I got used to that and one summer when I was visiting my then boyfriend (now husband) there was a hurricane and a lot of stores were closed so we drove around looking for SOMEWHERE that sold Lucky Strikes but we couldn't find any so I ended up getting some unfiltered Camels. They were that bad.

I mean, I still smoked them, but they were terrible.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:14 PM on February 6


Is there an actual, noticeable difference between different brands of cigarettes?

Lucky Strike. It's toasted.
posted by crossoverman at 8:25 PM on February 6


If you have ever tasted a pyramid cigarette there will be no doubt in your mind that it tastes worse than any other cigarette imaginable. This is possible to ascertain even having never tasted a single other cigarette.
posted by Ferreous at 8:29 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: "I only smoke Chesterfields because my doctor recommended them for my "T-zone".

The tricky part is figuring out which end of the couch to light.
"

Couches are filterless, so you can light either end.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:30 PM on February 6


telstar: my doctor recommended them for my "T-zone"

The Torrid Zone?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:34 PM on February 6


I would chain smoke but not buy 100s because they just feel wrong.

Literally. I'd bump into things with them and accidentally try to light them 1/4 of the way up from the end.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:36 PM on February 6


Question for smokers or people who have smoked in the past: Is there an actual, noticeable difference between different brands of cigarettes?

Yes, but it's subtle and people's preference for one brand over another is probably down to what they imprinted on than anything really concrete.

I started smoking American Spirits, and they were my brand for the year or so that I smoked. I was willing to bum Parliaments or Camels, but nothing else.

The price of a pack of American Spirits and the ban on smoking in bars in NYC spelled the end of my smoking career. Since I pretty much only ever liked to smoke American Spirits while drinking in dive bars.

It is not unlike the Coke/Pepsi divide, in my opinion.
posted by Sara C. at 8:37 PM on February 6


As cool and as clean as a breath of fresh air.

Nothing like taking a puff while casually riding in the Tour de France.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:39 PM on February 6


I switched to Camels (no filters) while in the Army. Nobody in their right mind would bum those from you....
posted by HuronBob at 8:40 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


There's another compilation of old ads here.

Spud. There was a cigarette called Spud. I don't think it was made from potatoes. And it was advertised by naked men in showers and a dirty football player in uniform who felt compelled to start off the ad by saying "Hi. I'm a football player."

Spud.
posted by maudlin at 8:49 PM on February 6


I've been smoking for 42 years and have just given up. 7 months cold turkey and going strong. Here's a classic from Australia - Martins with the fabulous Frank Thring.
posted by unliteral at 9:25 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


The infamous T-zone (scroll down). Actually it was Camels, but I just like saying "Chesterfields".
posted by telstar at 11:40 PM on February 6


Excuse b2b comments, but Mr. Spock has COPD, which he attributes to smoking tobacco 30 years previous.
posted by telstar at 11:48 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I switched to an e cig almost four months ago and I haven't looked back outside of one puff on an american spirit handroll and less than half of a drum handroll.

I'm not even tempted by it anymore. And was once known to smoke 40-50 handrolls a day. It was fucking awful.

Yeah, I still use nicotine, but I can breathe and smell again. My BP is down 20 points. Done right e cigs have to be 1000x healthier than burning any form of tobacco.

When I see people smoking in film, video or in person it just looks bizarre to me now.

And e cigs shouldn't be used indoors anywhere smoking is banned. It's not just steam.
posted by loquacious at 1:09 AM on February 7


make e-cigs illegal right after you make perfume illegal (i often smell strangers perfume, never their e-cigs).
posted by el io at 2:24 AM on February 7


Ounce for ounce that Flintstones ad above is more effective than any single thing I know at showing just how much our culture changed in the span of a couple of decades. It's like something from another planet.

That's done literally in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men", in which Quark, Rom and Nog end up, via accidental time travel, being the Roswell aliens. Everybody in the Air Force base lights up, frequently and simultaneously, leading Quark to exclaim (once he figures out what they're doing), "If they'll buy poison, they'll buy anything!"
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:49 AM on February 7


Have a Lark!
I switched to Camels (no filters) while in the Army. Nobody in their right mind would bum those from you.... I had Kool non-filters for that purpose.
posted by MtDewd at 6:08 AM on February 7


Different brands definitely tasted different, and it was not subtle. Luckies were hot and dry; Camels were kind of sour-tasting, and Chesterfields were none of those things. Also, Top and Bugler RYO tobaccos tasted different from each other. Top was more like Luckies; Bugler more like Chesterfields, but neither was really like any store-bought cigarettes. I believe this was largely due to additives the manufacturers put in cigarettes to make sure they would not go out. If you set down a lit Bugler hand-rolled, it would go out within a couple of minutes.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:30 AM on February 7


"New Testament Cigarettes. I smoke 'em. He smokes 'em."
posted by Wet Spot at 12:26 PM on February 7


Is there an actual, noticeable difference between different brands of cigarettes?

Very much so. I smoked Larks because almost all other cigarette brands tasted awful, especially those sold in Canada and Europe. I don't believe they've been available in the US for many years, but they dominate the tobacco market in Japan..
posted by Rash at 1:59 PM on February 7


Speaking of different tasting cigarettes. I've never smoked, but I lived in Paris in the early 80's and I was always in awe of people who smoked Gauloises or the Gitanes - it struck me you had to have superhuman strength lungs not to drop dead from a single puff of those short stubby filterless Gauls or the Gitanes Brunes. It always made me wonder if those were particularly unhealthy, or simply equally unhealthy compared to the wimpy seeming American stuff like Marlboros (I say "wimpy", but keep in mind, I know nothing about smoking, so I may have it 100% bass akwards).

Anyone here smoked those French monsters? Can you compare tastes? Strength? Effect?
posted by VikingSword at 2:09 PM on February 7


Man, if I could go back into my past and change one thing I think I would make it so that I never started smoking. I can't think of a single positive thing it's done for my life, and I can think of lots of lousy things it's done (and here's hoping that I never reap the real health consequences) but it's just insanely hard to stop.

I "smoke" an e-cigarette these days and feel much better than I did when I was smoking cigarettes, but I could still do without the expense and the cravings and the lingering certainty that I'm not doing my long-term health any favors. If anything though the e-cigarette is even harder to kick than the tobacco ones were, since it's so easy to pick it up and put it down, I can often use it indoors, and it doesn't have as much of the stigma, stink, or short-term health effects of tobacco.

I absolutely support any legislation that makes people less likely to smoke, and especially less likely to start smoking. Sharply curtailing advertisements and putting clear warnings on packs regarding the health risks was an excellent first step, but I wish that we could get together as a society and decide that we were going to try to deliberately phase out tobacco use completely over the next decade or so. No amount of "but adults should be free to make their own decisions" is worth the collective cost in health and money – not to mention the fact that nicotine addicts, by definition, are not free to make their own decisions. That's what addiction means.
posted by Scientist at 2:29 PM on February 7


I wish that we could get together as a society and decide that we were going to try to deliberately phase out tobacco use completely over the next decade or so

You live in Louisiana, right?

The fascinating thing, to me, as a Louisianian, was moving to a nice normal Yankee state where this is, in fact, an ongoing public health mission on a state level. New York State takes smoking very seriously. A pack of cigarettes costs something like $8 in NYC. There are very graphic anti-smoking PSAs everywhere. There's a state health department hotline you can call where New York will basically walk you through quitting smoking. It would not surprise me if Nicorrette or that antidepressant they're prescribing nowadays were subsidized by the state of New York, under certain circumstances. They are most certainly covered by the various state health plans there.

But, yeah, Louisiana is basically like, "Sure, poison yourselves. Why the hell should we care?" I actually remember when smoking was finally banned in restaurants (circa 2006? Post-Katrina, for sure), and people were apoplectic about it.
posted by Sara C. at 2:42 PM on February 7


The fascinating thing, to me, as a Louisianian, was moving to a nice normal Yankee state where this is, in fact, an ongoing public health mission on a state level.

This may be the biggest reason I won't move back to Louisiana. I'd gotten so used to indoor public places being non-smoking, and it was surprising to me that I couldn't cope with it for even fifteen minutes.
posted by asperity at 3:47 PM on February 7


Is Big Tobacco Using The Web to Advertise? The report's authors searched YouTube for five, non-Chinese cigarette brands and analyzed the results, placing them in pro- and anti-tobacco categories. They found that 95% of the videos were pro-tobacco and only 3.7% were anti-tobacco

Smoking ads are back on TV - CNN
posted by Lanark at 3:51 PM on February 7


Anyone here smoked those French monsters? Can you compare tastes? Strength? Effect?

Imagine smoking a doormat. That's what smoking a Gauloise or Gitane is like.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:25 AM on February 8


Ouch. That's mean. But are you referring to the old style Brunes or the newer Blondes and stuff since the 80's reformulations? Are there smokers alive from the early 80's who could chime in about the old original taste?
posted by VikingSword at 12:23 PM on February 8


I was psyching myself up to quit by looking through the manipulative commercials from back in the day. After watching a bunch of them, I thought "Hey, this might make a neat post!"

I started smoking Camel Lights in 1987. I bought some electronic cigarettes and haven't had a real one in the last 26 hours.

I haven't murdered anyone or made any family members cry yet, so that's something.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:36 PM on February 8


Anyone here smoked those French monsters? Can you compare tastes? Strength? Effect?

The Gauloises are... hefty. I got a blood clot in my leg when I was 25 (totally from smoking), and while I've since quit it took me several tries over the next few years. I once ordered a carton of them over the internet and by the time I neared the end of it my leg would literally start throbbing after I smoked one and then I'd panic and get convinced I'd have a pulmonary embolism at any time. I'm probably lucky I didn't have one. But yeah, those one of motherfuckers felt like a meal. A delicious, deadly-ass meal.
posted by Dokterrock at 9:36 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


« Older "This project started with my dad on Thanksgiving....  |  Eric Proctor, aka Tsaoshin, dr... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments