Date: 1941
Brand: Camel
Manufacturer: R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Campaign: Less Nicotine
Theme: Light, Super & Ultra Light
Keywords: Female, Fashion, Designer
Quote: 28% Less Nicotine than the average of the 4 largest-selling cigarettes tested- less than any of them- according to independent scientific tests of the smoke itself! The smoke's the thing!


Less Nicotine

Camel s 28% Less Nicotine campaign ran from 1940-1944, most predominantly in 1941 and 1942. The campaign claimed that Camels had extra mildness, extra coolness, extra flavor as well as extra freedom from nicotine in the smoke. It was clear that Camel was tying nicotine content to mildness, and thereby healthfulness, but no direct health claims were made. Rather, it was implied that cigarettes containing less nicotine were inherently better for you than other cigarettes. Of course, it has since been proven that if a brand of cigarettes does indeed contain less nicotine, smokers will merely smoke more cigarettes in order to get the same nicotine kick they would normally receive, thereby negating any possible health benefits.

The ads in the 28% Less campaign cite independent scientific tests as the source for their facts and figures. Along with the claim of 28% less nicotine, R.J. Reynolds also claimed Camels burned 25% slower than the average of the 4 other largest-selling brands tested. The other brands tested were Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, Philip Morris, and Old Gold. The scientific report, conducted by New York Testing Labs, Inc., can be found in the UCSF Tobacco Legacy Archives, and is documented specifically as a report made for William Etsy & Company, R.J. Reynolds advertisement agency (1). The experiment was clearly sponsored by R.J. Reynolds with the intent of promoting Camel cigarettes. Toward the end of the report, the figures in question are reported specifically to facilitate ad copy writing: Camel % less than average of 4 other brands by 28.1% and Camel cigarettes burned slower than the average of other brands by a percentage of 25.5.

The scientific report discloses that its methods were experimental in nature, and, in fact, a subsequent follow-up report from 1942 demonstrates much different results, with Camel coming in at only 4.9% slower-burning and 11.9% less nicotine. Clearly, the methods used were not reliable. As we now know, because this experiment was conducted on a smoking machine, its results are inconsequential; smoking machines are incapable of mimicking the variety of smoking patterns and the smoking topography of human smokers.

Also of note, particularly relevant to one advertisement, is a photograph of two technicians operating the standardized automatic smoking apparatus used for the experiment. The first ad of this theme contains the photograph. It is indeed the same machine used from the experiment, as it accurately matches the diagram provided in the scientific report accessible through the UCSF Tobacco Legacy Archives (1). The inclusion of the photograph in the advertisements is a clear indicator that the tests were hardly independent in nature, and that they were indeed sponsored generously by William Etsy & Company, and thus by R.J. Reynolds.

NY Testing Laboratories, Prvitz GJ, Jack GB JR. An Investigation of the Ultimate Components, Nicotine in Smoke, and Burning Time of 5 Popular Brands of Cigarettes. 31 July 1940. RJ Reynolds.

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