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  •  Through most of the 20th century, most major league baseball teams had a cigarette brand as a major sponsor, over and above the many different brands advertised in the scorecards and yearbooks.. In New York City, for instance, the main cigarette sponsor of the Yankees for decades was RJ Reynolds Camel (then Winston beginning in the mid-1950s when filtered were introduced after reports that smoking caused lung cancer); the Giants were sponsored by Liggett & Myers’ Chesterfield; and the Brooklyn Dodgers were sponsored by American Tobacco Company’s Lucky Strike.
  • After cigarette advertising was banned by Congress from TV and radio in 1971, tobacco companies merely shifted their TV advertising expenditures into the sponsorship of televised sporting events and began sponsoring entire sports leagues–the best known of which were Philip Morris’ Virginia Slims Womens Tennis Circuit (1971-1996) and RJ Reynolds’ Winston Cup NASCAR Racing (1971-2004). Events in these series were televised, resulting in constant exposure to cigarette brand names on racecars, players’ uniforms, and billboards throughout the stadiums and arenas. Only two the 24 major league baseball stadiums in the US in 1985 did not have cigarette billboards (Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field). By the 1990s, more than 20 cigarette sponsored sports were regularly televised, and in 1994 RJ Reynolds acknowledged sponsoring 2736 separate sporting events throughout the US, many of which were on TV.
  • Thus, barely a decade after TV and radio cigarette commercials were banned, more than $2.7 billion was spent each year in the US by the six major tobacco companies to promote cigarette smoking. Such advertising, including sports sponsorships that were not perceived by young viewers as advertising, created social acceptability for cigarettes, and helped reinforce complacency of those who did not smoke.
  • Sponsorship of art museums, dance troupes, symphony orchestras, and opera companies was pioneered in the 1950s by Philip Morris, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, to offset the bad news about smoking. Cultural sponsorship was so successful in enhancing its image in the arts and business communities that Philip Morris adopted the slogan, “It takes art to make a company great.”[To read, hear, and see more about tobacco sponsorship of the arts, use this link.]
  • In 1994, Philip Morris asked leaders of the Metropolitan Opera, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Joffrey Ballet, and other cultural organizations to lobby against a bill before the New York City Council to restrict smoking in public places.
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Philip Morris Promotional Videos on Arts Sponsorship

“The arts provide a kaleidoscope of visions of how beautiful and wonderful the world can be” (1:27)

Promotional video by Philip Morris

“In a constantly changing marketplace, playing it safe is taking the greatest risk of all.” (0:30)

Promotional video by Philip Morris

“Sponsoring art is a positive thing” (2:13)

Promotional video by Philip Morris

1989 Margulies Houston Post Ive approved your National Endownment for the Arts grant

Jimmy Margulies
Houston Post

1991 Herb Block Tobacco Company Sporting Events

Herb Block
The Washington Post

Benson Cartoon Tobacco Sponsorship 1

Steve Benson
Arizona Republic

n.d. Nicole Hollander Sylvia Arts Organizations have Benefitted

Nicole Hollander
No date

Artists as Ashtrays Postcard 1

Postcard illustrated by Doug Minkler
Distributed by Doctors Ought to Care (DOC) as part of a satirical campaign aimed at cultural groups and opinion leaders that accepted funding from tobacco companies

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