Big Tobacco in the Big Apple

How New York City Became the Heart of the Tobacco Industry
…and Anti Smoking Activism

P. Lorillard Tobacco Company

From Snuff to Dancing Cigarettes (0:52)

The P. Lorillard Tobacco Company is the nation’s longest continuous manufacturer of tobacco products. It began by manufacturing snuff at the snuff mill that is now part of the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. Pierre Lorillard is said to have been New York’s first millionaire. By the 20th century Old Gold cigarettes, the flagship brand of Lorillard, was a leading sponsor of radio and had tremendous advertisements in magazines and newspapers, it even had its own Lorillard’s Magazine. But the height of Old Gold’s popularity came with the advent of television when Dennis James would host “Chance of a Lifetime” and promote the dancing cigarette packs of Old Golds. The famous slogan was light an Old Gold for a treat instead of a treatment thus recognizing the early reports of the adverse health effects of cigarette smoking.


Lorillards Magazine

Debuting in 1914 Lorillards Magazine was an illustrated magazine featuring humor, stories and advertisements exclusively for Lorillard tobacco products. Circa 1918

climax 1895

Climax and other Popular Brands…

Advertisement touting Lorillard’s brands of “Tin Tag Plug Tobacco” from 1895

Charlie Chaplin Old Gold

Presenting Charlie Chaplin

Old Gold Cigarette Advertisement featuring the actor Charlie Chaplin from Circa 1928

Broadway for Old Gold

Broadway casts its vote for “O.G.”

Advertisement for Old Gold in The American Rifleman  from August, 1929

n.d. Union Leader Tobacco Ad

The World’s First Tobacco Advertisement

“True in 1789 …true today” Union Leader Advertisement P. Lorillard Company.

Old Gold Puzzle Contest


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.

Old Gold Envelope form the P. Lorillard Company 1941


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.

“For a Treat instead of a Treatment!” – Old Gold, Health Claims, & Television

New York City was the center of the early television age and cigarette companies sponsored many popular programs, a tactic perfected during the rise of commercial radio a generation earlier. Lorillard was no exception and the company used its sponsorship of popular programs to tout Old Gold as a mild and less irritating cigarette in these ads and promotional items.

Dennis James with Dancing Pack


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.

March1952NATD Back


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.

“The crowning taste treat of all king size cigarettes”

Video clip of Old Gold in-studio advertisement featuring two performers in cigarette pack costumes

1948 Old Gold Ad Resize 60


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.

Herb Shriner for Old Gold


Old Gold’s Puzzle Contest Crica 1920s.

Lorillard 001


An advertisement heralding Lorillard’s 200th Anniversary in The New York Times from April 3, 1960.

200 Years of Lorillard Company

Lorillard And Tobacco 200th Anniversary

Hardbound Book chronicling the History of the P. Lorillard Company 1960.

Kent Micronite

Your Voice Of Wisdom Says Smoke Kent

Advertisement for Kent’s revolutionary Micronite Filter cigarettes in The Saturday Evening Post, Micronite contained asbestos a deadly carcinogen.

old snuff mill pic
NY Botanical Gardens Snuff Mill wm 1

Old Lorillard Snuff Mill

Illustration and Photograph of the Lorillard Snuff Mill which still stands in the New York Botanical Garden 1960.

The Mysterious Disappearing 1981 New York Botanical Garden Conference on Tobacco (5:02)

Lorillard Snuff Mill NY Botanical Garden Description Correspondence Resize 60

“The Old Lorillard Mill In Bronx Park, N. Y. City, We are proceeding with the conversion of the Mill into a public restaurant and a meeting place for civic, fraternal and similar organizations.”

Lorillard’s Magazine

Tobacco: Use, Abuse, Substitutes, Marketing and Clinical Effects

Program for a canceled conference on tobacco
New York Botanical Garden
June 14, 1981


Explore the First 200 Years with the Links Below

Or use the navigation bar to visit other sections of the Exhibition

Lorillard ad 1789 Lorillard and Tobacco book
Alfred Lyon The House That You Built
Marlboro NYT 1986
1950 Little Johnny Hospital Sign
NYSJM 10 1942
Use of Tobacco title page

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