History of cigarettes
Tobacco marketers featured healthy, vigorous, fun-loving people in their ads. Often these were celebrity figures from sports and entertainment fields, other times they featured actors portraying physicians, dentists, or scientists. Some ads tapped into concerns about weight gain; some portrayed the middle-class comforts of home, holiday, recreation, or family pets.
For historians wanting to study the role of advertising, popular culture, and image-making on public attitudes and the social acceptability of smoking, this museum holds unparalleled research collections. Among the most colorful and provocative are the over 10, 000 tobacco advertisements in the museum's Archives Center, recently donated to the Smithsonian by Dr. Robert K. Jackler and his wife, the artist Laurie M. Jackler.
Motivated by the death of his mother from cancer, Dr. Jackler sought to document the concerted effort to popularize smoking, and the conscious attempt to obfuscate smoking's known health hazards. Working with his wife and Stanford University historian of science Robert N. Proctor, Jackler not only preserved the full range of tobacco ads but compiled a database that allows users to search on particular themes, including ads featuring babies and young people.
As Chair of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Jackler collected a 1930 ad for the American Tobacco Company's Lucky Strike cigarettes (shown at the top of this post) as the epitome of the era's "manipulative quackery."
Advertisements often sought to reassure the public by showing health professionals making false claims, such as "Luckies are less irritating" and "Your Throat Protection—against irritation—against cough." Advertisers incorporated a wide range of trusted authority figures to market products for tobacco companies. A 1949 ad produced for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation shouted that "Viceroys filter the smoke!" and used an image of a solemn dentist recommending the brand.
Advertisers incorporated a wide range of trusted authority figures, including health professionals, to market products for tobacco companies, such as this 1949 ad produced for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation