Cigarettes Were Advertised Everywhere

This is really the kicker. I remember when cigarettes were advertised on television. Yes. It’s true. And innocent kids watched the commercials which always featured cool people smoking. Being impressionable, kids absorbed this and took up smoking just like they were supposed to. Isn’t advertising great?

Kids, your servant included, enjoyed nothing more than buying a pack of candy cigarettes and pretending that we were smoking. It seemed cool. When I watch movies made in the 1930s and 40s, what jumps out at me is how often people light up a cigarette. They smoke everywhere. We smoked everywhere but I don’t notice the absence of it because it happened gradually.

What fascinates me about these old movies is how important cigarettes were as a prop and how much an actor could define his character by the way he handled his cigarette. Naturally people in these movies smoked actual brands of cigarettes which were available to the everyday dolt. See your favorite actor smoke a Parliament and go out and smoke them yourself.

Television wasn’t the only place cigarettes were advertised. Billboards advertising cigarettes were everywhere. Big metal signs proclaiming such and such a brand of cigarette were posted in stores. Magazines were filled with cigarette ads. And most everyplace which sold cigarettes gave you free matches and those matches were made by the cigarette companies.

Lots of athletic contests and other wholesome things were sponsored by the cigarette companies. Now the beer and alcohol companies have kindly stepped into the breach. Is this a great country or what.

That’s some double chin. Start smoking more and you’ll die of a heart attack before you get that fat.
What a whale! Good Lord, girl. Start smoking three packs a day now. Better to have nicotine stains on your teeth than be the fat lady at the circus.

[Images courtesy of The Society Pages.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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