Bizarre vintage tobacco advertising that made smoking seem healthy, 1920s-1930s

Inspired by the immediate nationwide success of assorted cigarette brands such as Camel, Lucky Strike and Chesterfield cigarette companies, millions are spent on advertising and promotion to encourage smoking.

Tobacco marketers featured healthy, vigorous, fun-loving people in their ads. Often these were celebrities from the fields of sports and entertainment, other times they portrayed actors portraying physicians, dentists or scientists.

Some commercials touted concerns about weight gain; Some depicted the middle class comfort of home, vacation, entertainment, or the family pet.

Lucky Strike led an effort to popularize smoking among women, mostly made famous by the "Torches of Freedom" campaign carried out by Edward Bernays. Women were organized to smoke cigarettes during the 1929 Easter Parade in New York City.

In one of the ads, they specifically appeal to women, "Ladies - lucky tag is - protecting your nails." The ad also included a photo and comments of Ina Claire, a stage and film actress from that era.

Other ads display the famous slogan "It's Toasted", used by Lucky Strike from 1917. The reason given here for toasting is "throat protection."

The ad claims, "... the exclusive "toasting" process that involves the use of modern ultra violet rays – a process that draws out some of the harsh, biting irritants naturally present in every tobacco leaf."

Camel, on the other hand, claimed, "Camels are never dried or toasted." “We would never dream of tasting or toasting sun-ripened tobacco – which would only take away or destroy the natural moisture that makes camels refreshing in their mild way of nature.”

The ad ends with a challenge and an ominous warning, "... just switch to camels for a day - then leave them, if you can."

The second major cigarette brand to be advertised in the newspaper was Chesterfield. Chesterfield's selling points were that they were lighter, had better flavor, purity (one ad claimed they were "as pure as the water you drink"), and they satisfy.

While it became common knowledge that tobacco consumption is harmful to people's health, it was rarely accepted in the 1930s.

Indeed, during that time, cigarettes were exempt from all meaningful laws, in part because of a lack of understanding of the consequences of nicotine abuse, but also because of the lobbying power of the tobacco industry.

Advertisements in women's magazines were promoted in a way that made cigarettes look stylish and desirable. In addition, cigarette advertising receives a lot of financial support because of its high success.

Ultimately, women were invited to "imagine themselves as participants in the modern world and to remake themselves as modern feminine subjects through their consumption practices."

Transport, communication, industrialization, urbanization and modernization emerged, which were traditionally conceived through a male lens, as women were often excluded because of their domestic roles.

Advertisements for tobacco products were generally not focused on women as a consumer, but as an entertainer or were shown to sell the product to men.

Women's magazines like Vogue explored the culture of consumption and encouraged readers to remake themselves into modern women. Cigarettes had to be advertised and expressed in society in a certain way in order to remain legal and within reach.

Free or subsidized branded cigarettes were distributed to soldiers during World War I. The demand for cigarettes in North America, which had been doubling roughly every five years, began to grow even more rapidly, now nearly tripling during the four years of the war.

In the face of impending violent death, the health harms of cigarettes became a concern, and there was public support for drivers to bring cigarettes to the front lines.

Billions of cigarettes were distributed to soldiers in Europe by national governments, the YMCA, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.

Private individuals also donated money to send cigarettes to the front, even from jurisdictions where the sale of cigarettes was illegal. Not giving cigarettes to soldiers was seen as a traitor.

By the time the war ended, a generation had grown up, and a large proportion of adults smoked, making anti-smoking campaigns quite difficult.

Returning soldiers continued to smoke, making smoking more socially acceptable. Abstinence groups began to focus their efforts on alcohol. By 1927, US states had repealed all their anti-smoking laws, except for minors.

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