Pretty Girls Sold Tobacco – old cigarette and tobacco ads

Pretty Girls Sold Tobacco – old cigarette and tobacco ads

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Here is an interesting history of tobacco advertisements using pretty women and pinups as bait, and to gain broader social acceptance of smoking cigarettes!

To explain changes in tobacco advertising, you have to take a historical perspective, which this article explains best. Briefly the history of tobacco ads (according to this 1953 article):

  • In the 1860s, most tobacco companies were American and wanting to gain more social acceptance, so the women advertising it were well known mainstream actresses.
  • In about 1900, Turkish cigarettes became the rage, so tobacco advertising took on a more Oriental flare.
  • In 1916, because of World War I, Turkish cigarettes went out of style, and Reynolds came out with Camel Cigarettes (although the Harem girl lingered thru the 1920s).
  • In the 1920s, women also started smoking… and Chesterfield was the first to take advantage of this in advertising, though they could only hint at it with romantic tobacco advertisements geared obliquely towards women.
  • Marlboro, in 1927, was the first cigarette company to show a woman smoking in an advertisement… and the rest of the tobacco companies followed, often with catchy slogans to match.
  • The current trend, as of 1953, is for leggy cigarette girls, with RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co distributing 100,000 32 inch high cut out displays of a pinup model smoking, for Camel Cigarettes.

Below are old tobacco ads from between the 1960s and the 1950s. In 1864, approximately 19 million cigarettes were sold in the USA. “In 1954, sales will approach 400 billion”.

About The Author

Professional WordPress nerd. Lover of all things older than me. I am fascinated by early 1900s labor and feminist history, and have a sporadic addiction to reading nonfiction about those things on Archive.org. I scan old photographs and ephemera when I get really super bored. On Etsy I sell vintage clothing that I got as part of an interesting trade deal a few years ago.

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