The Evolution of Cigarette Advertising

An advertisement for Cleopatra Cigarettes, found in the Local and General section of The Egyptian Gazette.

In 1970, Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, which prohibited the advertisement of cigarettes, and this law took effect on January 2, 1971. As a result, I have never seen a pro-cigarette advertisement a day in my life. And clearly, that reality differs from that of people who lived in Alexandria in 1905. Here, the Egyptian Gazette, on page three of this issue, is pushing the reader to check out an advertisement for the Cleopatra Cigarette Company, just in case they skimmed over it while reading page one just moments before. In essence, not only does the “Gazette” advertise for this cigarette company on the very first page of their newspaper, but they also refer the reader back to that advertisement in a later section of the paper, and in doing so, they are essentially advertising for Cleopatra Cigarettes two times in one issue. This just goes to show how lax people’s views on cigarettes were back in 1905. This newspaper “begs” the reader to check out an advertisement for cigarettes, hoping that they’ll end up purchasing the cancer sticks for themselves.

This is beautifully juxtaposed with modern society’s view on cigarettes. For one, in 2016, you would never find an advertisement for cigarettes in a local newspaper. Moreover, there are a plethora of campaigns in existence today which put out ads and commercials to influence people to not smoke, or to stop smoking.

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This is just one example of the many types of ads in existence today, aiming to make society aware of the side effects of smoking cigarettes. Being surrounded and exposed by so many negative advertisements like this, it makes me question what my view on cigarettes would be if I lived in 1905 Alexandria, and was exposed to positive ads for cigarettes. Not to mention, how I would feel if my local newspaper advertised cigarettes. And moreover, if my local newspaper advertised their own cigarette advertisements.