Collection: Cork Tip
In the history section of R.J. Reynolds’ Web site (as of October 2011), the company claims that Brown & Williamson introduced Viceroy as “the industry’s first cork-tipped filter product” in 1936. However, as the ads in this theme prove heartily, Viceroy was far from the first-ever cork-tipped filter cigarette. Indeed, Carl Avery Werner outlined the manufacturing techniques of cork tip cigarettes as early as 1922 in his book Tobaccoland: a book about tobacco; its history, legends, literature, cultivation, social and hygienic influences, commercial development, industrial processes and governmental regulation (1). This mention indicates that by 1922, “cork-tipping machines” had already been invented, and manufactured cork tip cigarettes were relatively common-place. The “Not a Cough in a Carload” ad collection supports this assertion, with brands such as Egyptienne Luxury (produced by S. Anargyros) advertising cork tips as early as 1911 and London Life (produced by P. Lorillard) touting cork tips by 1914.
There are many reasons that cork tips likely became popular. First, the cork acted as a method to prevent the smoker from accidentally getting loose tobacco in his mouth. A Viceroy ad from 1957 claims its new filter truly eliminates the necessity to “P-F-F-T tobacco.” Both cork tips and cotton tips were likely meant to stave off this problem. Additionally, the cork tip offered protection against lip, fingertip, and perhaps teeth staining. Beginning around 1926, still well before Viceroy’s release date of 1936, Carreras Limited put Craven “A,” also a cork tipped cigarette, on the market. In many of their ads, Carreras claimed that the Craven “A” cork tip provided beauty protection– “kind to your lips” or “do not readily cause finger stain or interfere with make-up” were claims to such effect. In this manner, cork tips could act in the same manner as the “beauty tips” popular among other cigarettes at the time. Finally, and more in line with the filter’s use today, cork tips were sometimes advertised as health protection. For example, in 1929, Craven “A” advertised its “cork-tipped cigarettes” as unique in their throat protection – “they never catch my throat” or “are always kind to my throat.” Certainly, Craven “A” was prophetic in its assertion that filters could be advertised as beneficial to health. Even in modern times, cigarette brands present filters as methods to reduce amounts of nicotine, “tar,” and carcinogens inhaled, though whether or not filters are effective to this end is dubious.
1. Werner, Carl Avery. Tobaccoland: a book about tobacco; its history, legends, literature, cultivation, social and hygienic influences, commercial development, industrial processes and governmental regulation. The Tobacco Leaf Publishing Company. New York. 1922.