It’s the holiday season and advertising is out in force trying to help you find that perfect gift. Years ago the tobacco companies helped with the gift-giving ideas.
It wasn’t uncommon to open a magazine and see Santa reminding you to get cigarettes for that special person in your life. Cartons were designed like decorated gifts with name tags to make gift-giving easier. What a thoughtful hostess gift. No more learning how to wrap a present, the tobacco industry thought of everything to help you out. If you had a pipe smoker on your list, the can of Prince Albert also came in a decorated box with Santa on the outside. Prince Albert is an American brand of tobacco and was first introduced by R.J. Reynolds in 1907. It was named after King Edward VII, who was known as Prince Albert before being crowned King.
During World War II, the tobacco industry was making sure the smokers at the home front didn’t forget those brave men serving our country. Santa is shown with his military helmet and a bag of Chesterfields. The red Christmas cartons pictured men in uniform puffing away on a cigarette. How patriotic!
Santa was an equal-opportunity tobacco user, apparently. Not only did he give the gift of tobacco, it appears he enjoyed it himself. And it wasn’t just cigarettes, Santa enjoyed a cigar every now and then. Santa’s smoky smell wasn’t just from the fireplaces after all.
Even Hollywood turned out to help the tobacco industry sell more cigarettes during the season. Here Ronald Reagan is seen addressing cartons of Chesterfields for all his friends. Ah, yes, cigarettes, the gift that keeps you coming back for more.
Cigarettes weren’t the only tobacco product to pitch itself at holiday time. One ad claims “a man who enjoys life enjoys cigars.” What a great family ad showing two children ready to use their piggy bank money to buy Dad a special Christmas gift. And what a great mom encouraging her children to buy tobacco, even if it is for Dad.
Decorated Christmas tree in the window, check, Holiday party invitations mailed out, check. Putting out the cigarettes so all party-goers can enjoy a smoke, check. A great hostess always makes sure her guests are comfortable and never run out of cigarettes. Only thing missing from the picture is the decorative lighter so many homes had sitting on the coffee table, next to the large ashtray. It appears there is ash on the end of those cigarettes, but you don’t see a haze of smoke surrounding everyone.
In this more modern advertisement from Marlboro, Santa states “may all your dreams come true this Christmas.” A closer look at the smoke from the end of his cigarette, and you can see Santa’s highly suggestive dream. It’s bad enough for little children to see Santa smoke, but the message takes this ad from tacky to tasteless.
Did you notice the Chesterfield, Camel, and Pall Mall cartons do not display the actual pack designs, but rather a winter/Christmas motif? These holiday designs were the original “plain packaging” and were on going for years. The consumer could see the product name, but didn’t see the trademark pack image. And cigarettes were still purchased. Tobacco companies have always found ways to sell their products. Most of these ads were before warnings were mandated on cartons and printed material.
Tobacco advertisements have always been clever, but seeing the image of our innocence hawking tobacco just isn’t right.
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