The History of Cigarette Marketing


Talking about smoking and cigarettes is always intriguing. Smoking, even some consider a bad habit, it is also an activity that can be beyond the inhalation and exhalation of tobacco smoke.

It can function as a social move, personal expression and statement, or just recreational activities. Talking about smoking and modern culture, it will link to the existence of cigarette.

The most popular smoking device that has been in function for centuries.

Although smokers can produce their own tobacco if they prefer, it is easy to buy a ready-to-smoke cigarette from sellers.

There is a wide variety of cigarettes that are marketed up to this day. Different cigarette comes in different brand and image to represent the distinctive smoker’s choice.

This issue is what’s interesting in the cigarettes business: the world of cigarette marketing.

Pre-World War I until World War I


One of the interesting media for cigarette marketing dated back in the late 1870s. After the development of color lithography, collectible picture card that initially intended to stiffen the cigarette packaging.

This is an important component of early American cigarette advertising. Usually, these trading cards featured sports heroes, beautiful women, and iconic individuals. This trading cards used as a means of customers engagement and building brand loyalty.

These cards were effective tools in incentivizing customers to limit their purchases of cigarettes to a specific brand. In 1913, Camel brand was advertised nationally for the first time in the US.

During the world war I, the troops received distributed free or subsidized branded cigarettes. Because of the increasing demand for cigarettes in North America, the demand rose faster during the years of war.

During the war, the concern is about supporting the troops by getting cigarettes to the front lines. Soldiers are given billions of cigarettes distributed by national governments in Europe.

These cigarette donations also are done by private individuals, who gave money to send cigarettes to the front, even from jurisdictions where the sale of cigarettes was illegal. Not giving soldiers cigarettes was seen as unpatriotic.

During and after World War II

During world war II, cigarettes were included in American soldiers’ C-rations. Many tobacco companies gave cigarettes for free. This thing affected cigarette sales to reach an all-time high.

Besides soldiers’ addiction to cigarettes, a particular cigarette brand gained its loyal group of customers. Nazi, the World War II enemy create an anti-tobacco campaign. Because of that, tobacco companies use the association with Nazis to counter the anti-tobacco campaign.

During World War II, there is a Camel Ad showing a wife sending her soldier husband a carton of cigarettes.


Cigarette ads are not only in the form of trading cards in the 1920s and 1930s. The ads were then featured in printed media like newspapers and magazines.

At that time, the advertisement campaigns glorified the healthy features of cigarettes. The ads are featured in a full-color magazine ad depicting doctors clad in white coats proudly lighting up or puffing away.

Magazines and newspapers offered tobacco brands a chance to target a variety of potential customers, by which that method is an effective marketing strategy.

The use of clever slogans, imagery, themes, and narratives has made the marketing strategy of cigarette brands appealing to consumers to buy cigarettes.



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