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The history of cigarette advertising gives insight into the current perception of smoking both in Western countries and in the developing world.

Before 1926, few women smoked and advertisements featuring women smoking resulted in public backlash[1]. In 1926, Chesterfield had billboards showing a woman asking a male smokers to "Blow Some My Way". This particular campaign resulted in a 40% increase in sales over two years.

During the late 1920’s the links between smoking and fashion and slimness were formed. Marlboro’s "Mild as May" advertisements appeared in the fashion magazine Le Bon Ton. In 1928, Lucky Strike cigarettes launched a campaign with slogans such as: "Light a Lucky and you’ll never miss sweets that make you fat" and "Avoid that future shadow, when tempted reach for a Lucky", accompanied by a silhouette of a woman with an exaggerated double chin[1]. Another advertisement showed a slim female body next to an obese shadow of a female with the saying "Is this you five years from now? When tempted to overindulge reach for a Lucky instead. It’s toasted."

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, companies began linking smoking with thinness, fashion and independence. For example, Philip Morris launched their women’s brand of cigarettes, Virginia Slims, with the slogan "You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby"[1]. Virginia Slims also carries catalogues that offer clothing and accessories in exchange for proofs of purchase. In 1997, Philip Morris began a record label called "Woman Thing Music"[1] which features new women performers. Their CDs are marked with packs of Virginia Slims.

Advertising has also targetted men used gender, the industry has linked tobacco to a hyper-masculine image. Even non-smokers will be able to identify cigarettes than men should smoke and cigarettes that are for women.




1. Ernster, V., Kaufman, N., Nichter, M., Samet, J., Yoon, S.Y. (2000) Women and tobacco: moving from policy to action. Bull WHO, 78(7): 891-901.

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