Collection: Throat Scratch
In the 1950s, like many cigarette brands, Pall Mall released a campaign intended to ease public concern over the health risks of smoking. This extensive campaign, released in newspapers in June of 1949 and later in magazines, ran until 1954. Its ads featured the slogan “Guard Against Throat Scratch” and advertised a “smooth” cigarette which “filters the smoke and makes it mild.” The term “mild” was a code word meant to indicate a “healthier” cigarette (“mild” was seen as the opposite of “harsh”). The simplicity of these ads, printed in black, red, and white, not only saved Pall Mall on printing charges, but also provided the ads with an authoritative command; they have no frills and appear very straightforward. Additionally, the hues provided a spotlight for the red Pall Mall package. The meaningless diagram included in the advertisement, “The Puff Chart,” compares the longer Pall Mall cigarette to a leading regular-length cigarette. The Puff Chart was meant to be a “scientific” diagram that claimed that the longer length of the Pall Mall cigarette allowed Pall Mall to filter out more smoke. In 1950, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began cracking down on the false health claims in cigarette advertising, issuing cease-and-desist orders for many cigarette advertisement campaigns. As of 1950, it was investigating Pall Mall’s “Throat Scratch” campaign; at the time, the FTC investigators had decided that king-size cigarettes, like Pall Mall, contained "more tobacco and therefore more harmful substances" than are found in an ordinary cigarette. “Throat Scratch” disappeared in 1954, along with many other brands’ health tactics. Many scholars attribute the cessation of false health claims in cigarette advertising to be a direct result of a collusion among tobacco companies, rather than resultant of FTC mandate, though the FTC did release a draft of its Cigarette Advertising Guide in 1954 (1).
1. Solow, John. “Exorcising the Ghost of Cigarette Advertising Past: Collusion, Regulation, and Fear Advertising.” Journal of Macromarketing. 2001. 21:135.