Old Cigarette Ads: Doctors, Nurses, And Rock Hudson Say It's Good For You

Man, cigarettes were awesome in the past, if these old ads collected by Stanford University are to be believed. They calmed your nerves so you’d stop humming nervously! They soothed your throat! They made you a movie star and helped you capture animals on your big game hunt! We don’t know what tobacco was made of before the mid-80s, but no wonder everyone smoked.

Or maybe it was just ridiculous advertising. Check out Stanford’s full collection for more stunners like the ones below.

“Not a Cough in a Carload” [Stanford University via WeirdNewsFiles via Neatorama]


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  1. tande04 says:

    God I want a cigarette now. Thanks for that.

  2. aw, no Joe Camel ads?
    i remember those from when i was a kid, and i remember when joe went bye-bye… i think my dad told me that Joe died of cancer or something.

  3. audiochick says:

    My dad has smoked Camels for thirty years, and now I know why! He just didn’t want to hum and smoking is a perfectly reasonable substitute.

  4. dougp26364 says:

    Try this on for size. Here’s a link to an old Flinstones comercial for Winston.

    + Watch video

    Winston tastes good like a cigerette should

  5. slopirate says:

    Ha. My grandma went to Jr. High School with Rock Hudson. I should ask her what he smoked back then :-)

  6. ironchef says:

    Mad men!

  7. rockergal says:

    ahh.. a glimpse of the world BEFORE it got all PC, and where people could enjoy something…

    heh, I quit smoking in January and I sure would love a smoke now.. maybe I will start humming

    • kenblakely says:

      “Ha. My grandma went to Jr. High School with Rock Hudson. I should ask her what he smoked back then :-) “@rockergal: I donno what he smoked back then, but he was a polesmoker later in life!

    • mythago says:

      @rockergal: “PC” being the politically correct term for “not acting like a reckless bunch of assholes”?

  8. MercuryPDX says:

    They’re toasted!

  9. Ahhhh, now I’m in flavor country.

  10. My City has a smoking Ban. Life if good.

  11. Barney_The Plug_ Frank says:

    That’s old school baby!

  12. Gamethyme says:

    This is one reason I enjoy listening to classic radio – sometimes, they’ll broadcast the original commercials as well. Some of those ads are hilarious.

  13. humphrmi says:

    Heh, remember how Geritol cured “tired blood”…

  14. Segador says:

    My doctor also recommends a glass of whiskey before I drive to calm my jittery nerves.

  15. zeitguess says:

    They need to go further back with the ads showing all of the health benefits of smoking. Cigarette companies truly are evil. People didn’t know better back then, now they do. No excuses.

    • mythago says:

      @zeitguess: That’s why tobacco companies target kids. Adults have better judgment. Teenagers are positive they won’t get addicted, because they’re special little individual snowflakes who know everything. By they time they figure out different, they’re hooked.

  16. Moosehawk says:

    I think I’m going to start my smoking addiction now. These jangled nerves are killing me!

  17. MayorBee says:

    Heh…Here’s a good brand hawked by good ole Ronnie Raygun. A co-worker has the nickname “Chesterfield” because he smokes like a chimney and his name rhymes with it.

  18. RckPngn says:

    When did the harmful effects of smoking start to show. When did people really know it was bad for you? Was it before or after these ads. I’ve never really known.

    • dougp26364 says:


      If you go back to when Jamestown was settled and they had to grow tobacco as an export to survive, I think you’ll find that the king of England knew then it was a bad weed to inhale.

    • seamer says:

      @RckPngn: Some doctors realised at the start of the 20th century (probably earlier) that smoking was bad for you, but due to lobbying, peer pressure, money for advocacy…the clever doctors were outnumbered by lots of advertising, such as we see listed in this thread.

      Things got really bad when everyone was prescribed a cigarette to fix their emotional state, and even WW1/WW2 didn’t help with the US Army giving hugely subsidised smokes to soldiers as a field distraction. All those soldiers came home already addicted.

    • FangDoc says:

      @RckPngn: My great-great-aunt was from Ireland and was a battlefield nurse during WWI (she went when she was only 15.) She could see the difference between the lungs of smokers and nonsmokers during surgeries, and always campaigned against cigarettes within the family, even in the 30s and 40s when it was widely believed to be safe and even salutory. She was very happy when the science started to support her.

    • timsgm1418 says:

      @RckPngn: damn, they’re bad for you? I guess I SHOULD be reading the box before I light up.

  19. geneb5 says:

    There had been indications throughout the 40s, but the ad-filled newspapers never reported on them. Then, by 1954, the evidence was overwhelming. And THAT’s when the tobacco industry went on a full frontal attack on science, shouting “not proven,” “more study needed,” promoting bogus “experts,” etc., buying off legislators and journalists, forcing mags that carried their ads to obscure the issue, even bribing the American Medical Assoc(!)

    Millions died because of their efforts, which helped minimize the information on smoking and health for 40 years.

  20. Gopher bond says:

    I can’t wait to start smoking again, the day I retire, hopefully, if they’re still legal, if not, then I’ll just grow my own.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I collect old magazines and the ads are classic…and not just for cigarettes. It is pretty interesting to see how advertising has changed over the years.

  22. dougp26364 says:

    Here’s a doctor comercial for Camel I believe.

    + Watch video

    • ROCKYLIFE says:

      Wow these ads are hilariously in bad taste, but I don’t quite get what the “pitch” is…

      – Is there implicit approval of some kind of “health” benefits because Doctors are smoking them?
      – Are we supposed to value Doctor’s opinions highly in regard to our elements of pleasure? “When surveyed, most doctors prefer to boink redheads…”
      – Were doctors the “consumer advocates” of the time, giving recommendations of the highest quality consumer goods?

      Confused at to what they’re really trying to say here….

  23. Hongfiately says:

    I have a copy of the old Abbot & Costello “Who’s on First?” routine broadcast from radio. The show was sponsored by Camel and had the jingle “C-A-M-E-L… S! That’s C for Comedy, A for Abbot, E for Ennis, M for Maxwell, and L for Lou Costello…” And they also ran a commercial that said, “More doctors smoke Camel than any other brand.”

  24. AgentTuttle says:

    Really puts today’s advertising into perspective.

  25. timsgm1418 says:

    frankly yes, I would rather have someone smoking around me than humming, that would drive me insane, and would show that humming is definitely more harmful to your health

  26. Kathlene says:

    I wonder if the new “Sweet Surprise” High Fructose Corn Syrup ad campaign will be seen in the same light 50 years from now. Their ad campaign is basically “HFCS is super-awesome and doesn’t cause obesity (see note 1) and everyone who disagrees is an ignorant moron.”

    Note (1): Based on studies sponsored by the HFCS industry, HFCS doesn’t cause obesity when used in moderation. Please ignore the other studies which disagree.

  27. BytheSea says:

    In the 60s, when my grandmother’s 12 yo daughter died and she was deeply depressed and in and out of hospitals, her doctor recommended drinking wine to calm her nerves.

  28. blankhorizons says:

    It does calm your nerves

  29. zyodei says:

    It’s worth reading about the history of the horrible and corrupt American Medical Association and the tobacco industry. Basically, the birth of the AMA was a front group for big tobacco..they received millions and millions of dollars to legitimatize cigs, tobacco was far and away the AMA’s #1 contributor for it’s first 50 years or so. Sort of like the equally deadly, corrupt, and evil pharmaceutical industry today.

    Remember your ABCs…Always Buy Chesterfield!

  30. banmojo says:

    I’m more conservative than liberal, but this is the kind of thing that makes me call for government intervention – companies have been guilty of false advertising for … EVER. Hey, a greedy bank or mortgage company, talking ignorant (by CHOICE people!!) wanna be home owners into dangerous loans is ALSO kinda like false advertising. Of course, this will not change in this lifetime – humans are selfish lazy pricks for the most part (imho, mmm’kay) and unless our government turns from a political model into a scientific model (where systems and subsystems are constantly being observed and tweaked to make them more efficient/proper/constructive) we’ll continue on in this mode until history repeats itself, our once great country falls, and the next superpower takes the reins for a finite amount of time.


  31. DrGirlfriend says:

    I like how the word “pleasure” is plastered all over Rock Hudson’s ad. Maybe it’s just me, but that word has always sounded to me all sexy-like.

  32. jamesdenver says:

    If in New York this exhibit is actually at the NY Public Library though 12/2


  33. Believe it or not, i saw a cigarette ad in a magazine just a year ago.

    When my wife’s son arrived from overseas in November of ’07, he brought home the issue of Mabuhay magazine – which is the in-flight magazine of Philippine Airlines.
    On page 37 of the November issue is a full-page ad for Winston cigarettes, complete with a model that looks quite like Brad Pitt, with another couple on a beach.

    Seemed odd to find such an ad in a modern-day magazine. Though, it’s probably NOT printed in the U.S. and therefore, legal.

    Funny though, that the models in the ad were all ‘caucasian’ (American looking), and not Filipino or asian.