Big Tobacco in the Big Apple

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

Radio and Television Commercials


Tobacco Advertising on TV and Radio Created by New York City Advertising Agencies (0:56)

One of the most memorable weekends, I ever had of New York growing up, was when I was about nine, my folks and I went to the Waldorf Astoria for the weekend. Literally driving in from Long Island and staying at the world’s most glamorous hotel and on saturday night, they were about to go to a live TV show of Herb Shriners Two for the Money. I insisted, I wasn’t going to have a babysitter for that one, and they snuck me into the telecast and of course, I was exposed to commercials for old gold cigarettes.

This is the way it was in New York from the 1930s through the 1960s, the most popular radio and TV shows in New York were sponsored by cigarette companies. The most popular TV show by far was I Love Lucy sponsored by Philip Morris with commercials woven right into the plot.

Sit back and watch in disbelief and stunned horror, but a kind of odd amusement, at the radio and TV commercials from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Radio Advertisements

1946 radio advertisement from the “Chesterfield Supper Club” features popular singer Perry Como. (1:51)

1946 radio advertisement for Raleigh tobacco features the campaign slogan, “Proof positive, less nicotine.” (0:27)

1946 radio advertisement for Camel cigarettes features the campaign slogan, “What cigarette do you smoke, doctor?” (0:58)

1946 radio advertisement for Camel cigarettes touts their use by servicemen in the war and in service hospitals. (0:38)

1947 radio advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes (0:44)

1947 radio advertisement for Camel cigarettes features the campaign slogan, “Experience is the best teacher.” (1:12)

Audio clip of radio program, “This is Your Life” (1948-1952), sponsored by Philip Morris cigarettes (2:01)

Audio clip of a 1950 radio spot for Philip Morris cigarettes (3:35)

1954 radio advertisement for Winston cigarettes features the jingle, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” (0:41)

1965 radio advertisement for Salem cigarettes (1:02)

Television Commercials

By the 1950s, TVs were in every home, and tobacco companies were major sponsors of popular programs on every national network. The transition from radio to television gave rise to unique advertising opportunities that cigarette manufacturers seized with gusto. In an age where variety show hosts, news presenters, and even Fred Flintstone lit up, cigarettes were inescapable on the small screen.


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I saw it in The Times Ad pitch
Wall Street Journal 1982 Merit full page  2
cosmo 1
resolute smokers
1969 The Peril Ahead Front Cover Kent Ad
Lucy color ad for Philip Morris 1953
lot of money in marlboro 1987 ad 1
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