Smoking was ordinary in the 1960’s and 70’s, but apparently sales showed that not enough women were smoking. The tobacco company began a campaign designed to appeal to women. Supposedly. The early ads showed women in the early 20th century being chastised for smoking. Now, apparently, women had “come a long way, baby” and could smoke just as freely as men.
This ad is clearly trying to attract another market segment, black women. This woman is meant, I suppose, to represent a very strong rebellious woman, with an Afro and Afro-centric colors of clothing. This ad probably ran in Ebony or Jet, rather than in women’s magazines such as Good Housekeeping. Ads were still drastically segregated, and people of color were not seen in ads for “general (i.e. white) audiences.” But that’s another post!
I never took up smoking because of a childhood deep inhalation of a neighbor’s cigarette when I was six. I promptly threw up, curing me forever of any desire to smoke. But most of my friends smoked. Cafes, restaurants and bars were thick with smoke. To be an intellectual almost demanded that you smoke. No one except the tobacco companies knew that cigarettes were both addictive and lethal.
Today I cringe as I think about both the ad campaign with its patronizing use of the word “baby” and the emphysema and lung cancer rampant in people my age. But we didn’t know about the danger in the smoke. And it hurt us.