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Women in Vintage Tobacco Advertising

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Say what you will about tobacco marketing, you have to admit they definitely know what they’re doing.  Known for stretching the truth  outright lying and skillfully targeting every demographic under the sun (minus newborns and the already deceased), cigarette advertising is at once disturbing and a wonder to behold.  Even better are the advertisements from decades past when there was less restrictions, and tobacco marketing could play fast and loose.

So, let’s have a look at advertisements from this time period which focus specifically on women enjoying a fresh pack of smokes…

1969 Les Cigarettes Royale Menthol

1969 Les Cigarettes Royale Menthol

Nothing phallic about this one.  Nothing at all.  (Something tells me this ad is intended to target the male demographic.  Call it a hunch.)

Of course, for the ultimate look at tobacco targeting women, look no further than Virginia Slims.   In this article we look in detail at their ads through the years: You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: Virginia Slims Advertising Year By Year

Here, we’re not just looking at brands specifically for women, but rather any tobacco advertising that can lure in the ladies…

1954 Phillip Morris advert

Marlboro advertisement

“I really go for that Marlboro flavor.” Yes, nothing goes with a refreshing beverage, sailing and romantic walks like chain smoking cancer sticks.


This ad from 1981 lets the ladies know the pleasure won’t be short and quick.  On the contrary – “the pleasure lasts longer.”  (No double meanings here. Move along.)

1969 Les Cigarettes Marlboro

1969 Les Cigarettes Marlboro

You’ll notice that, for almost all cigarette advertisements, the cigarette is un-smoked or just lit.  Rarely do you see one smoked anywhere near the filter.  This ad is a rarity.

RedBook Apr 1983

RedBook April 1983

1969 Les Cigarettes Philippe Morris 100 mm

If you’re not carrying a purse, I recommend just sticking your smokes in your headband.  Nothing unusual about that.

Climax April 1960

This gal is full of devilish glee over the new “Miracle Tip”.

Constanza magazine Germany April 1958 (18)

drum cigarette tobacco

Look 1955_camel

Psychologists are literally telling you that smoking is good for you.

old gold cigarette ad

Now here’s a man who knows how to treat a lady.

LM cigarette ad

Publicité Advertising 1971 (2 pages) Les Cigarettes Extra-Longues Royale

Publicité Advertising 1971 Les Cigarettes Extra-Longues Royale

vantage cigarette advertising

It’s Wall Street in the 1980s, I think you’re going to need more than cigarettes to keep up with the pace.  Might I suggest something a little more… white and powdery?

viceroy cigarette advert

US magazine April 3_1989

US magazine April 3, 1989

benson and hedges cigarette advertisement

Before you get concerned that this is making fun of a woman too stupid to light a cigarette properly, know that this was a running gag in B&H 100s adverts, with men and women alike unable to deal with their cigarette’s extra length.

more cigarette vintage advert


“The first thing you notice is the taste”… well, actually it’s the pretty little design around the filter.

Publicité advertising 1968 Les Cigarettes Royale

1968 Les Cigarettes Royale

Lucky Strike

This advertisement provides this daring quote: “Ask yourself this question: Why do I smoke?”  I don’t think Lucky Strike was thinking about the fact that most smokers will say, “Because I’m completely addicted to your toxic chemicals.”

Years later they had clearly learned their lesson, keeping things nice and simple…


Ms Magazine Vol 5 No 3 Sep 1976 {PDF} (2)-39

“Because I’d never smoke a boring cigarette…. and I like my cigarette pack to match my blouse.”

peter jackson cigarettes

With those pearly whites, she clearly hasn’t been smoking Peter Jackson for long.

Newsweek 1962_viceroy

I’m not clear as to what’s going on here; all I know is that she’s surrounded and the natives are getting restless.  I hope she has an escape plan.

Publicité Advertising 1968 Les Cigarettes Murati

silva thins cigarette ad

“I like my figure slim. My men trim. And my cigarette thin.”  Well, she definitely has a preference for things slender.

Publicité Advertising 1970 Les Cigarettes Longue Royale

1970 Les Cigarettes Longue Royale

Wow.  This one even has me wanting to take up smoking.  Let’s quit before we’re all picking up the habit.  Cheers.

  • StandingTallAsAnAmerican

    For most people these days, smoking is a deal breaker.

    It’s amazing how these companies made it look sexy and appealing for so many years.

  • njguy54

    These ads prove the principle that advertising sells the sizzle, not the steak. Here, they’re selling beauty, confidence, success, sexiness, popularity, desirability, fun and adventure. You can have all that and more in one little package…

  • Ken Zieger

    The woman in the Viceroy ad looks like she has a baguette in her shirt pocket. Unconventional shopping indeed.

  • Freakanatcha

    For the woman saving coupons for a new blender, I can think of a dozen things she could do for her man to get a blender without having to choke on a carton of cigarettes.