Date: 1942
Brand: Chesterfield
Manufacturer: Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company
Campaign: Nurses
Theme: Doctors Smoking
Keywords: Female, Male, Nurse, Mild, Military
Quote: Claudette Colbert is doing a grand job in the Volunteer Army Canteen Service (VACS to the boys).

Comment: This ad fulfills three purposes: it recruits nurses for WWII (the top line describes the Volunteer Army Canteen Service), it publicizes Paramount Pictures new romantic comedy, Palm Beach Story, and, most obviously, it advertises Chesterfield cigarettes (the imagery and copy text for Chesterfields dominates over half of the ad). In fact, the patriotism masks the ad s true intent of marketing cigarettes. Claudette Colbert (1903-1996) is shown here as a volunteer in nurse s uniform, passing out Chesterfield cigarettes to adoring fans young, handsome American soldiers. Colbert is also the leading actress in the advertised film, in which she is shown smoking cigarettes. She ultimately passed away after suffering from a series of strokes.


Along with doctors and dentists, nurses presented yet another health professional that had the potential to reassure consumers worried about the ill health effects of smoking. The none-too-subtle message was that if the nurse, with all of her expertise and her dedication to helping patients, chose to smoke a particular brand of cigarettes or even recommended a particular brand, then it must be safe.

As women began taking up the habit of smoking during the early 20th century, so did nurses in large numbers. It is interesting to note, however, that whereas the number of doctors who smoked plummeted drastically in the 1950s and 1960s when conclusive data linked smoking to lung cancer, smoking remained common among nurses. To this day, smoking is more prevalent among nurses than doctors in the United States. The Nurses Health Study shows that 8.4% of nurses smoked in 2003, whereas comparable data from 2005 from the Association of Medical Colleges reveals that only 1% of doctors smoke (1).

1. Nurses Health Study shows nurses smoke more than doctors. Nursing Times. 26 Nov 2008. .

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