The Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society Presents:
Smoking in the Balcony Only
When Movie Stars Sold Cigarettes
In the latter half of the 19th century, four interwoven factors led to the popularization of cigarette smoking: the Civil War, when millions of young men took up the tobacco habit; the invention of a machine that could mass-produce cigarettes; the enactment of anti-spitting laws due to public health concerns about the spread of tuberculosis from chewing tobacco and cigars; and the dawn of the advertising industry that promoted smoking as an inexpensive luxury and a sign of sophistication and manliness.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, cigarette smoking became one of the great unifying elements of society. Movies were becoming the top entertainment medium, and on the screen people from every walk of life were enjoying cigarettes.
Tobacco companies soon enlisted the top movie stars of the day to endorse their cigarette brands. The film industry grew up together with the tobacco industry, aided by their advertising and public relations allies…
Smoking in the Balcony Only: When Movie Stars Sold Cigarettes is an updated online version of an exhibition that was originally presented at the BAMA Theatre in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, September 10-27, 2006. All of the advertisements are from the collection of the Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society.