100 Years of Women’s Cigarettes
2020 marks 100 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment which afforded women the right to vote in the United States. The year also marks 50 years since the last cigarette ad appeared on American television. The ad for Virginia Slims features suffragettes sneaking smokes while singing of their disdain for various vices; eventually giving way to a trendy woman of the present enjoying, in open confidence, a Virginia Slims cigarette.
Tobacco Companies have never shied away from advertising to women using every angle from wealth and vitality to independence and matrimony. Women evolved in tobacco ads from the hen pecking wife scolding the husband for his habit, to flirtatious flappers making eyes at consumers through smoke rings, patriotic nurses and women’s reserves in war time encouraging civilians to buy war bonds and cigarettes, to fully independent women touting tailored brands like Virginia Slims and Dakota in delicate but empowered fingers.
“The Last Cigarette Commercial”
December 31, 1970
Courtesy Museum of Television