Old Cigarette Commercials

I was listening to an old radio show and I heard one of their commercials. It is hard to believe that at one time doctors were used to sell cigarettes. In the commercial they polled doctors and the cigarette doctors smoked the most was Camels. This gave the impression that Camels were the healthiest. In fact they were so healthy they challenged people to smoke them for thirty days. After those thirty days they would find out that Camels didn’t irritate the throat.

It seems like a hundred years since cigarettes were everywhere. Ashtrays and smoking lamps were common place.

Recently I was at a convenience store and saw a pack was going for around $5. This made me laugh because even though I don’t smoke I used to sell cartons at a store for around $7.50. (It was less than a hundred years ago.)

Any strange cigarette memories out there?

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26 thoughts on “Old Cigarette Commercials”

  1. Wish I could find the picture of me as a toddler running wild on my grandmother’s tobacco farm in North Carolina and trampling the plants. This was definitely not a political action on my part and if I’d been older, I’d have had the common sense to avoid harming any part of my inheritance.

    Everybody on that side of the family smoked Lucky Strikes (no filters-hard core) but amazingly enough, they all died of old age in their nineties. 🙂

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  2. To adolescent rusticated me, smoking meant glamour and independence. No tobacco or alcohol at home!   I was never addicted to it, although there were times when I did it a lot. Then one December 31, I resolved to give it up for one year. And never went back.  I don’t see how people can enjoy it now, there’s no place you can do it in peace, not even outside!

    It was very pleasurable, and I still love the smell, especially outside on a hot night.  I’ll bet,  like ET’s  family, I coulda kept it up indefinitely with no ill effects. But my best friend died of emphysema, just kinda ran down, every year, every month, every week able to do less and less.  Not pleasant.  So I guess I’m in the opposition camp now.

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  3. Ha! I can remember those commercials with the doctors.  I started smoking when I was 12. When my mother realized I was taking cigarettes from her purse she told me if I was going to smoke I’d have to buy my own. Initially, I smoked whatever I could get, purloined or purchased. I think a pack was maybe 12 cents, probably a dime some places. When I was in high school, there was a special area set off outside for those who wanted to take their lunch period smoking cigarettes. As I gained more financial independence I settled on Camels and always said ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel’. I smoked Camels until I was 37 so 25 years of smoking altogether before I quit for good ‘cold turkey’. It’s been noted that I don’t have an addictive personality so I guess that’s why I can shed bad habits easily once I have the will. Obviously, quitting cigarettes and beer has saved me a fortune.

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  4. Bob Thompson:
    Ha! I can remember those commercials with the doctors.  I started smoking when I was 12. When my mother realized I was taking cigarettes from her purse she told me if I was going to smoke I’d have to buy my own. Initially, I smoked whatever I could get, purloined or purchased. I think a pack was maybe 12 cents, probably a dime some places. When I was in high school, there was a special area set off outside for those who wanted to take their lunch period smoking cigarettes. As I gained more financial independence I settled on Camels and always said ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel’. I smoked Camels until I was 37 so 25 years of smoking altogether before I quit for good ‘cold turkey’. It’s been noted that I don’t have an addictive personality so I guess that’s why I can shed bad habits easily once I have the will. Obviously, quitting cigarettes and beer has saved me a fortune.

    Here are the prices of cigarettes from 1954 to 2014.

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  5. 10 Cents:

    Bob Thompson:
    Ha! I can remember those commercials with the doctors.  I started smoking when I was 12. When my mother realized I was taking cigarettes from her purse she told me if I was going to smoke I’d have to buy my own. Initially, I smoked whatever I could get, purloined or purchased. I think a pack was maybe 12 cents, probably a dime some places. When I was in high school, there was a special area set off outside for those who wanted to take their lunch period smoking cigarettes. As I gained more financial independence I settled on Camels and always said ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel’. I smoked Camels until I was 37 so 25 years of smoking altogether before I quit for good ‘cold turkey’. It’s been noted that I don’t have an addictive personality so I guess that’s why I can shed bad habits easily once I have the will. Obviously, quitting cigarettes and beer has saved me a fortune.

    Here are the prices of cigarettes from 1954 to 2014.

    I started smoking in 1949 and I’m almost certain the price where I stole my cigarettes was under 20 cents/pack.

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  6. I was stationed at Wallops Island VA out on the “DelMarVa” peninsula.  This is an appendage that hangs down from Maryland and which forms the eastern boundary of the magnificent Chesapeake Bay.  Well, if you drive in from the Atlantic Coast and turn left on the main road, you’ll go south, and it’s a way to the nearest gas station.  If you turn right instead, you’ll go north, and the gas station is not so far.  But you will cross the Maryland state line, and the difference shows in the price of a pack of smokes.

    And that, boys and girls, is how I learned about the reality of State government policies.  It’s also how I resolved to never set foot in Maryland again if I don’t have to.  The only exception to this is if I have a chance to take on online friend up on his invitation to come dine with his family, which I would very much like to do at some point.

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  7. It’s been two weeks since I quit.  When I started, I could get a pack for about $0.25. There were times I quit for a few years, last time I started was four years ago after being off for about three years. Too damn expensive now, that’s my excuse and reason for quitting again. Costs in the area of $100 a week.

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  8. John Walker:
    From 1946:

    More doctors smoke Camels

    More like this.

    “A message from our sponsors.”

    I laughed at seeing a Arthur Godfrey was flying an Eastern plane for a promotional video and after they got to cruising height he pulled out a Chesterfield. It seems the co-pilot (who was really the pilot) did not smoke but the flight engineer and Arthur did. It is hard to imagine smoking in a cockpit now. I think the promo was for the Super Constellation. (It is at the 20:30 mark in the video.)

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  9. Come to think of it, hospitals and doctors were at one time causes of death. They were filled with quacks and germs. It wasn’t till Joseph Lister promoted a sterile surgery that things got cleaner. (BTW, did you know the surname Lister is an occupational name meaning textile dyer?)

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  10. Much like Bob Thomson, I smoked at 12. A pack a day, every day. I hitchhiked around my area, looking back at some pre-adolescent kid with his thumb out and dragging on a smoke… that was fairly normal, even in my toney suburban area (Phila Main line). I cut a hole in my balsa wood door to my room and covered it with an op-art picture. That’s where I hid my Marlboros (box version). It was 1965. I was often getting in trouble for smoking from my mother, who also smoked. True brand cigarettes. They were low tar and nicotine and they were absolutely awful, like smoking stale air. I had to be really desperate to pilfer from her pack of True’s. For a period I was hooked on menthols. Kools, were the only thing I could smoke. The menthol is it’s own addiction. Then I smoked Camel non-filters for quite some time. Looking back they were the best cigarettes, and probably much better for me than those low-tar nicotine things.

    When I lived in Egypt for a year, imported American cigs were very expensive and I smoked Cleopatras or Nefertiti’s which came in 100mm form and were pretty lame. When I was in Europe I tried Galuoises (sp?) they were putrid but satisfied my nicotine urges. If there was ever an addiction that was hard to break (once I even bothered to try) it was cigarettes. I stopped the last time in my mid-thirties and it’s been 30 years now since I took even a puff.

    I since realized that smoking is also a way of life. I became addicted to “breaks”.

    Being in a band, I can’t seem to get away from smokers, and I witness their addiction in rehearsals where they’d need to go outside for smokes. Over the years I’ve had many different band members, and there was a time I vowed the next new guy or gal would be a non-smoker. Unfortunately that makes finding the right fit -musically, personally, professionally too freakin’ hard. When I first stopped, I didn’t know what to do with myself without this need to go away somewhere, smoke and ruminate, either by myself or with other smokers. In a band it creates factions, because smokers all go out with each other and the non-smokers stay in the rehearsal room and each come back from breaks with different ideas. Of course, the non smokers were still playing and working.

    Now cigarettes are so expensive (a lot more than 5$ a pack what I see), it shows how horribly addictive they are. none making less than 50,000 a year, (with no kids) is severely hindering themselves economically by being a smoker.

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  11. Here are the taxes per pack for some states!!! (2017)

    • New York ($4.35)
    • Connecticut ($3.90)
    • Rhode Island ($3.75)
    • Massachusetts ($3.51)
    • Hawaii ($3.20)
    • Vermont ($3.08)
    • Minnesota ($3.07)
    • Washington ($3.025)
    • California ($2.87)
    • New Jersey ($2.70)

    Here are some low end states.

    • Nebraska (64¢)
    • Tennessee (62¢)
    • Wyoming (60¢)
    • Idaho (57¢)
    • South Carolina (57¢)
    • North Carolina (45¢)
    • North Dakota (44¢)
    • Georgia (37¢)
    • Virginia (30¢)
    • Missouri (17¢)

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  12. @Franco, are you from the city end of the Main Line, Natberth way, or the hunt-club end, toward Paoli?

    I lived in Wayne for years.( Anybody remember the book Bobos in Paradise? ) There was always a sort of pentimento effect on. The Main Line, clusters of blue collar neighborhoods hard by Lancaster AVenue, bars with no signs out front, known to and  frequented only by blacks.   The working class seemed to see only their venues, and the wealthy only saw the mansions, the rich churches like Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, the green and pleasant college campuses.  Wayne was not one of the most desirable addresses; it used to be all business when I had my office there.  Now, it’s all pleasure! The plain brick office buildings now house coyly-named boutiques, and you couldn’t chuck a stone without hitting a trendy artisanal little restaurant. (For years, a Dairy Queen by the train station and the vinyl stools at the Rexall drugstore were pretty much Wayne’s only  eateries). So idk, gentrification has proceeded apace and I reckon the working class residents are now not only invisible but non-existent, and the blacks have retreated to Mount Pleasant. (That was/ is? an all-black, middle class residential community near Bryn Mawr, which I would never have known about except through one of my adult-literacy students.)

    Re Your last paragraph, about the cost of cigarettes.  It’s too funny, the idea of taxing cigarette sales at a punitive rate, , or suing the manufacturers for money damages.  You can make them agree to put up “Butthead” billboards all over the country.  They don’t care! They’ve got an addicted population which will buy their smokes even if it means they can’t afford anything else.  

    Everyone should be appalled by the ridiculous spectacle of government raking in tax money from the sale of tobacco, while at the same time expending vast sums on public health campaigns discouraging smoking.  Make it illegal already, if they’re serious.  Oh but then, there wouldn’t be any tax revenue.

    We hear that legalizing pot will generate tremendous revenue.  No doubt, and then they’ll,turn around and start earnestly warning young people not to take it up, while hoping they do, because: tax revenue…..

    Did you ever hear of anyone taking up cigarettes in their thirties?  People do, however, become newly minted alcoholics in middle and old age, so I think the health problem from legal recreational pot, at least if people smoke it, will be far greater than from tobacco. (I’m told that eating the stuff produces a less pleasant “body high”, so I think people are gonna wanna inhale it.)

    In general I’m in favor of letting people go to hell their own way, but it’s hard to be so laissez faire  if you’ve watched someone waste and die from emphysema.

    P.S. That’s what happened to my best friend, a blue collar guy born and raised in Bryn Mawr, and a smoker since his preteen days.

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  13. These vice taxes are very detrimental to poor people, who are disproportionately addicted and really need the money  (of course they may just transfer it to other bad things, but cigarette addiction is harder to kick than alcohol addiction, and even drug addiction because it’s so insidious.).  That and lotteries and casinos. I absolutely despise these greedy states for this. The State makes more money from the taxes than the cigarette manufacturers make in profit. Exponentially so in higher tax states. So who’s more invested in keeping people addicted and gambling away their paychecks (or welfare checks) ? The State. And I don’t care how many gambling hotlines the State promotes. It’s absurd to think that mitigates their guilt.You don’t call a gambling hotline until your lost just about everything.

    I worked in casinos. It’s pathetic.

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  14. @Hypatia

    Our comments crossed. Yes I was in Bala-Cynwyd till second grade when my mother left my dad and took me, an only child to Wynnewood, then a year in Wash DC and ack in the area living in the Devon Strafford Apartments (!)

    I went to Holy Child in Rosemont, Radnor Jr. High in Wayne, Lower Merion High and dropped out in 10th grade ( I was repeating it) and became a freak (or a hippie) and didn’t get my life back on track until I was 21.

    I rode those trains and hitchhiked up and down Lancaster Avenue and Montgomery Ave. Many of my friend’s parents were well off. My two best friends were dead by age 26 and 34, one came from a very nice family that lived in Bryn Mawr. Drugs and alcohol respectively. We were young petty criminals in our teens and many of my other friend and associates fell in with real criminals. My buddy who died at 26 was a small-time heroin dealer out of an apartment I shared with him in Newtown Square.

    I wasn’t really affluent, my mom was single and my dad remarried. The nice house and two families tapped him out pretty well. I know the area like the back of my hand. I visited recently my family home on Bala Avenue and it’s now gorgeous!

    I used to drink underage in those non-descript black bars in Bryn Mawr. Also in my drunken drugged youth visited for brief periods Montgomery Co. prison, Delaware Co. Prison and Chester Co. prison. But I’m not like that no more (Unforgiven 1991)

    Another friend, actually my girlfriend’s very best friend. Was found shot execution-style in West Philadelphia with three other teenagers in a drug related killing. It was all over the papers because she came from a nice family and she was probably 18 or so. I was numb in those days.

    Obviously I’m very lucky to have made it out of my horrible/spectacular neighborhood!

    I don’t think of those days too much now, but its useful sometimes and I can’t have regrets.

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  15. Nice to hear  Bala Cynwyd has made a comeback.  It must be 20 years ago I actually  heard a Main Line matron say, discussing her après vie plans: “We were  planning to be buried at St. Asaph’s in Bala, but that neighborhood has really gone downhill..”

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  16. Hypatia:
    Nice to hear  Bala Cynwyd has made a comeback.  It must be 20 years ago I actually  heard a Main Line matron say, discussing her après vie plans: “We were  planning to be buried at St. Asaph’s in Bala, but that neighborhood has really gone downhill..”

    When I returned to live with my father and stepmother in 9th grade, I went to Bala Cynwyd Jr, High and it was my first experience with Jewish kids. The neighborhood had changed from mostly Irish Catholic 7 or 8 years previous, to about 90% Jewish professionals. It was rather a shock in those days to see that the kids on the Honor Roll were considered the cool kids.

    I hope your friend isn’t anti-Semitic, or maybe a lot of them moved out to Gladwyne.

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  17. Franco:

    Hypatia:
    Nice to hear  Bala Cynwyd has made a comeback.  It must be 20 years ago I actually  heard a Main Line matron say, discussing her après vie plans: “We were  planning to be buried at St. Asaph’s in Bala, but that neighborhood has really gone downhill..”

    When I returned to live with my father and stepmother in 9th grade, I went to Bala Cynwyd Jr, High and it was my first experience with Jewish kids. The neighborhood had changed from mostly Irish Catholic 7 or 8 years previous, to about 90% Jewish professionals. It was rather a shock in those days to see that the kids on the Honor Roll were considered the cool kids.

    I hope your friend isn’t anti-Semitic, or maybe a lot of them moved out to Gladwyne.

    Oh nononono!  I guess you had to be there–I meant I found it hilarious, a self-parody of Main Line snobbery, that the lady would be concerned about her  neighbirs and the ton  of the neighborhood even after she was rotting in the clay….oh, never mind…

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  18. No I got the humor! I was just reminiscing and trying to make a joke myself.

    The whole area got really gentrified. I was shocked at how well-maintained the houses were. Obviously real estate values went up dramatically and they don’t build houses like that anymore, so wealthier people buy them and make them special.

    My father had been a sportswriter for the Inquirer and then a PR guy for a architect and engineering firm. No family wealth. My mother didn’t work at a job. And we had a house like the one pictured below . But it wasn’t in such pristine shape.

    My father always worked on projects around the house in his spare time. Most of the families in the neighborhood had bunches of kids. I walked alone about a mile to and from kindergarten.

    And this was the house I lived in from 1-7 years.

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  19. When I was a kid, I tried a cigarette and couldn’t stand it.  The idea of “learning to like it” seemed like the moral equivalent to learning to like broccoli, so I never did.

    When I started to work in the mid 60’s, smoking was a real hazard to breathing.  I was lucky that I was working with the computer and the mainframe room – where I could retreat – had big posters showing the relative size of smoke particles (huge) to the gap between the disk and the read head (tiny). Smoking in there was not allowed.

    Eventually, as PCs spread out through the office area, the posters moved with them and so did the ban on smoking

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  20. Gerry D:
    It’s been two weeks since I quit.  When I started, I could get a pack for about $0.25. There were times I quit for a few years, last time I started was four years ago after being off for about three years. Too damn expensive now, that’s my excuse and reason for quitting again. Costs in the area of $100 a week.

    @GerryD, good luck to you.  Stick with it.  The alternative is really not something you want to experience. ❤️☘️

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  21. Franco:
    No I got the humor! I was just reminiscing and trying to make a joke myself.

    The whole area got really gentrified. I was shocked at how well-maintained the houses were. Obviously real estate values went up dramatically and they don’t build houses like that anymore, so wealthier people buy them and make them special.

    My father had been a sportswriter for the Inquirer and then a PR guy for a architect and engineering firm. No family wealth. My mother didn’t work at a job. And we had a house like the one pictured below . But it wasn’t in such pristine shape.

    My father always worked on projects around the house in his spare time. Most of the families in the neighborhood had bunches of kids. I walked alone about a mile to and from kindergarten.

    And this was the house I lived in from 1-7 years.

    That is so beautiful.  By the time I left the Main Line,  we had many real estate transactions where the buyers didn’t even care about the home inspections–all they cared about was the location.  They bought these gorgeous old homes as tear-downs.

    Gerry D:
    It’s been two weeks since I quit.  When I started, I could get a pack for about $0.25. There were times I quit for a few years, last time I started was four years ago after being off for about three years. Too damn expensive now, that’s my excuse and reason for quitting again. Costs in the area of $100 a week.

    @GerryD, good luck to you.  Stick with it.  The alternative is really not something you want to experience. ❤️☘️

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  22. EThompson:
    Surprised not to see this fella; most famous cigarette icon of them all!

    Image result for Marlboro Man cigarette commercial

    Yeah, can’t help it, I fantasize about this guy, even though I know any time spent with him would probably involve a lot of hawking and spitting….

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