Notes From the Ashtray

Welcome to Flavour Country

Dylan Gyles

Tobacco ads once dominated magazines, television, radio, movie theatres and billboards, now they are one of the most highly regulated forms of marketing and are all but extinct.

Canada was late to the war on tobacco advertising. The United States began imposing restrictions on tobacco ads in the late 1960s. Canada did not begin until 1988 when it passed the Tobacco Products Control Act. The tobacco industry immediately appealed the legislation and was successful. The act was found to be a violation of free speech under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was not until 1995 that the act was reinstated by the Supreme Court. It meant the death of cigarettes in the media and the departure of the ever-present, ever-changing cigarette slogan.

Before cigarette companies were fighting the federal government, they had to contend with each other. Brand loyalty was everything to a cigarette company and they had to win their customers over with one catchy sentence.

Some slogans relied on sex to sell:

Tipalet - “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere”

Philip Morris – “More delicate in flavor too… for those with keen young tastes”

Flying Dutchman – “Lead women around by the nose”

Old Gold – “Ogled by octogenarians? Light an old gold”

Ashton – “Pleasure beyond expectation”

Winchester – “No woman ever says no to Winchester”

Some appealed to a sense of luxury:

du Maurier – “For people with a taste for something better”

Pall Mall – “Design, brother, modern design is plenty important!”

CigarLet – “A little pleasure you’ve got coming”

Peter Stuyvesant – “The international passport to smoking pleasure”

Some cigarettes personified masculinity:

Lucky Strikes – “Nature in the raw is seldom mild”

Camel – “Where a man belongs”

Marlboro – “Where there’s a man… there’s a Marlboro”

Others appealed to a female demographic:

Virginia Slims – “You’ve come a long way, baby”

Kool Milds – “Lady be cool”

Eve – “The first truly feminine cigarette-almost as pretty as you are”

Many companies emphasized celebrity patronage:

Camels – “John Wayne… a camel fan for going on 24 years!”

Chesterfield – “With the top stars of Hollywood Chesterfield is by far the favorite cigarette”

Lucky Strike – “O.K. Miss America! We thank you for your patronage”

When the health risks of smoking became known, most companies took up an offensive tactic and claimed actual health benefits:

Craven A – “For your throat’s sake”

L & M – “Just what the doctor ordered”

Camel – “For digestion’s sake”

Viceroy – “As your dentist I would recommend Viceroy”

Spud – “Got a cold—change to Spud”

Kent – “No other cigarette approaches such a degree of health protection and taste satisfaction”

Marlboro – “Ivory tips protect the lips”

While other companies refused to take part in the health controversy:

Old Gold – “We’re tobacco men… not medicine men.”

Phillip Morris – “No curative power claimed, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Occasionally, slogans even claimed religious alignment:

Mecca – “Where was Moses when the lights went out? Groping for a pack of Mecca.”

The only place you can legally find cigarette ads now is in bars and magazines with a minimum 85% adult readership. Most cigarette packages even have their slogan obscured by pictures of mouth cancer and large bold text “Smoking Kills”


Dylan Gyles

Dylan Gyles is a writer and barista. He writes short fiction and creative non-fiction. He is originally from Winnipeg and now lives in Vancouver.


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