TV Ads – Tobacco

Television advertising is powerful, more so than radio or print, and the images it presents can be highly influential. When the US Surgeon General issued a report in 1964 summarizing 7,000 studies on the destructive effects of tobacco smoking on health, some of the first recommendations involved a ban on television advertising.

The Federal Communications Commission considered that since the topic of smoking was controversial, broadcasters were breaking the Fairness Doctrine when their aired cigarette commercials since they didn’t provide air time for opposing viewpoints. While anti-smoking ads stared appearing on television in the late 1960s, the glamorization of smoking was itself controversial. This included advertising campaigns like the “Marlboro Man” – a rugged cowboy depicted in a western setting smoking a cigarette – and cartoon characters like the Flintstones. Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, banning cigarette advertising on television on Jan. 2, 1971.

Lucky Strikes in 1948 used a patriotic marching war-related theme for the vets just home from the front …

By the 50s, you needed a better reason to smoke, and the “Doctors smoke camels” ads delivered. Note that the design style of the ad reflects the W. Eugene Smith country doctor photo esssay

By the 60s, the Flintstones cartoon characters were even helping children get in on the act, promoting good old Winston cigarettes …

In this 1966 Marlboro commercial, you see another kind of image-making, for grown up children who believe everything visualized for them on television.

After tobacco ads were banned on TV, tobacco companies shifted advertising to magazines and sports events, but new laws and regulations in 2010 prohibit companies from sponsoring sports, music and other cultural events.