Collection: Thinks for Himself
The Myth of the “Safe” Cigarette: Filters and “Health Reassurance” Cigarettes
Tobacco companies promoted filters through ads which promised health reassurance, although filters did little to truly reduce the hazards of smoking. Indeed, industry chemists were well aware that most filters actually removed no more tar and nicotine than would the same length of tobacco! Nonetheless, Madison Avenue stepped up to the challenge of selling filters as the “intelligent choice” for smokers worried about their health. As early as 1942, Viceroy wielded a four-year-long campaign which claimed that “it’s smart to smoke Viceroy.” Later, in 1958 and ‘59, Viceroy followed up with “The Man Who Thinks for Himself Knows,” a campaign which dubbed the Viceroy filter to be “the thinking man’s filter.” Campaigns like these appealed to smokers who considered themselves upper-class and educated. The idea was that these smokers felt obliged to quit smoking due to overwhelming health concerns, so Big Tobacco would give them every excuse not to quit. “More scientists and educators smoke Kent” and “You’re so smart to smoke Parliament” demonstrate that many big brands hawked their cigarettes as the smart choice for intelligent smokers. Kent went as far as to claim that “it makes good sense to smoke Kent.” Filtered brands were a coup for the tobacco industry, growing in market share from 2% in 1950 to 50% in 1960 and 99% in 2005.