Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Changing times: old advertising

(Click to enlarge)

I like the website run by Lidian, called Kitchen Retro. She collects and posts (and writes poems about and makes outrageous fun of) old print advertising.

I doubt if she would run an old ad as controversial as this one, though, although the lady in the ad's "T" diagram for the taste-throat complex might lend herself to some of Lidian's sharp wit.

There was a time when cigarette smoking was pretty darn acceptable. And they only cost 25 cents a pack, so why the heck not, right? The only REAL dilemma was which brand to smoke. Camels, of course - the third fag in the unholy triumvirate of death to seep out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But who am I to judge, being an ex-camel smoker a couple hundred years ago.

Far be it for moi to try to stir up any trouble, but what do you think was the underlying premise of this ad?

And do you not long for this far away innocent time? You know, when heavy smokers died of heart attacks in their 40s and didn't burden the health care system by living long enough to develop lung cancer?


  1. Do you have a date for that ad? I would guess that it was produced when the dangers of smoking tobacco were just starting to be known and they were trying to imply the brand was healthier than others.

    In 1946 "Certain scientists and medical authorities have claimed for many years that the use of tobacco contributes to cancer development in susceptible people. Just enough evidence has been presented to justify the possibility of such a presumption ", so they knew quite early on. By the 50s, there were several reports published in medical journals. My parents were moderate smokers and I can clearly remember when my father told me he was going to give it up because the evidence was mounting. And that was way before people in general were aware. He was thought quite an oddity.

  2. Gee, remember candy cigarettes? They seemed so innocent while we mimicked our parents!

  3. I am perhaps ill-equipped to answer this since I came from a Mormon family where smoking was unheard of - in the family.

    The practical side of me makes me wonder how anyone ever thought smoking was healthy. Inhaling smoke. On purpose. Seems to me you don't need a medical degree...(nor, apparently, does that seem to help).

    I don't long for innocent times - I'm not sure we've ever had innocent times. I certainly don't long for our ignorant times, any more than I long for the times when women knew their place and could, with some reliability, be expected to die in childbirth or when bathing was considered a health risk.

    In my opinion, if someone says ignorance is bliss, they're either making money off the ignorance or they're the ignoramus.

  4. Sometimes being ignorant of the truth is a freedom, to know what is happening in the next 5 days can be more stressful than not knowing what the world holds for you..

    Having said that, I vaguely remember hearing somewhere that originally smoking was prescribed to soothe the nerves... as a therapeutic remedy because it was natural and not chemical... oh how the world has changed..

  5. Max - Oh, I might take on an ad like that, you never know! ;) Thank you for the kind and complimentary words (she said modestly hanging her head, et cetera)...Is that from the Stanford U collection Not A Cough in a Carload?

    My guess is that they did this back then (1940s, this ad is, I am guessing - lots of guessing here!) because they could; and to sell the product; and the reassure the minority of people who suspected, just a little, that smoking might not be a health panacea. This would (theoretically) convince everyone that it was OK to smoke.

    It really was another world back then.

  6. I meant, "and TO reassure" not "and the reassure" - clearly, I need to have an edit function for comments, or perhaps to type more slowly.

  7. One of my favorite movies in The Music Man. In the opening sequence as the train rolls into Iowa, the Conductor walks down the aisle telling everyone that Cigarettes are illegal in this state-though apparently pipes and cigars were ok.

    Going back just a bit farther in history we can find all kinds of Patent Medicines that were little more than cleverly named bottles of poisons and barbiturates.

    The modern ads we are bombarded with today for prescription drugs are just as evil and misleading-and also have a lot of people dressed as doctors telling you how swell they are.

    Of course, the three most abused drugs in America don't require a prescription and are readily available everywhere-caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

    In fifty years or so, will some clever blogger be posting ads for McDonalds and asking how they could have had the nerve to advertise that this stuff was food? Or maybe it will Organics that turn out to be evil.

  8. @A. - I can't read the copyright to clearly in the picture but it looks like 1946 in the margin printed up and down. I collect old magazines and in a 1950 issue of "Coronet" (not cornet :) there is an article, not an ad but an actual article, debating whether the people who say smoking is bad for you or may cause cancer are over-reacting alarmists. Many cigarette ads in that little pocket monthly.

    Interesting to hear your father smoked, even moderately, as I know he was a doctor.

  9. @Debbie - I don't remember that far back. Coff coff. :)

    @Stephanie B - I don't think anyone ever thought it was healthy. Not really. They did it because they were addicted to it and it satisfied a craving. Why they started in the first place, I'm not sure. I smoked for a few years and I sure don't know why I started. Perhaps just to experience it, same way one might try marijuana to see what all the fuss about. Depriving one's brain of oxygen to a degree seems to increase the level of dopamine D2 receptors (dopamine is a pleasure chemical)(if you want to be a rocket scientist about it :)

    This deprivation can occur in a few ways: physical strangulation or inhalation of amyl nitrite, as in sex; oxygen starvation by displacing the oxygen molecules in the lungs (smoking something); drinking alcohol, etc. Oddly, it has been discovered that some addictions, notably cocaine and alcohol addictions, can be treated by artificially increasing the number of dopamine receptors. The desire goes away because they are already experiencing euphoria.

    Ah. More than you asked for. Back to the cigarette ad.

    Innocence indeed means less knowledgeable, but I won't agree with you that today's "enlightened" age is superior to earlier times of character and black and white principles. Now there is no right or wrong, only situational ethics. I'll pass.

    But you KNEW we couldn't agree on everything!

  10. @Sage - Wow. That's pretty deep! But I know what the next 5 days holds in store for you. Shall I tell you? More of the same happy rewards one receives for always being cheerful and helpful and for sowing happy thoughts. :) That's what.

    @Lidian - Ummmm... what? Oh. No, I thieved this ad somewhere else. From a site that sells old paper. Paper ads, I mean. Not likely anyone would buy them, so I figured it would be ok to steal one. Please don't hate me because I'm cool. I swear I would have made a record of the name of the website if I had known you were going to ask. Stanford, you say? Another source. Heh.

    Sometimes it is hard to follow you - or at least I like to pretend it is: so what you are inferring is it might NOT be beneficial to smoke? Hmmmm. Certainly that would be food for thought. :) Thank you for stopping by. Any sort of post is always made better when you do.

  11. @Debbie - I want to give you a plug for the good things you are doing with hypnotherapy to help people lose this addiction. But I couldn't very well do it with a straight face when you were talking about smoking candy cigarettes. :)

    Plug: People, if you smoke and are tired of smoking and want to quit and have had trouble staying stopped, go here and click on "Kick Butt" to learn about an alternative you may not have thought about. Thank you.

  12. Descartes, Music Man was a favorite of mine, too. And I agree that the modern ads for prescription drugs are no better. Have you listened to some of those "side effects" they disclose light-heartedly during the commercials? Worse than the disease they are supposedly combating.

    I asked my doctor if "that medicine" was "right for me" and she said no, not unless I was going through menopause. So I stopped asking like they are always telling me to. God, that was embarrassing. Idiots.

    Caffeine is good for you. Don't be silly. :)

  13. Yes, smoking was touted to be relaxing the same way the exec's said "no we don't put anything in them to make them more addictive" Liars! Coke used to have the real coke in it remember? (not that you would of course. That was before your time.)What about Laudanum? It was prescribed for almost everything back in the day. Can anyone say if people really knew how addictive Opium was?

  14. 'Course they did. The Opium war was about forcing China to allow imports of Opium. Believe me, we knew it was addictive. They just felt they had a "handle" on it.

    Max, your article ate my comment again. We were disagreeing but I think it would actually be more irksome if I didn't tell you what I was disagreeing on.


  15. You're welcome, Debbie. :)

    Ettarose, they would say anything then to sell cigarettes. Very competative, this drug dealing game. Yeah, before my time, coke in coke. But I think they knew about opium. They called them dope fiends. ::jumps out of bushes at Ettarose and chases her::

    Staphanie B - It is irksome. It wouldn't kill you to try again. :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails