“What We Didn’t Know 2”


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.



25 thoughts on ““What We Didn’t Know 2”

  1. I always hated smoking and never did it, but everyone else including parents and some boyfriends etc. did. It was interesting to see the ad and how it differed from the ones I used to see, white women–I have a lot of older magazines that I grew up with and am sure there are many in there–Glamous, Cosmopolitan, that sort of thing that was trying to appeal to younger women.


      1. It is amazing what modern cameras will do. I took a photo of a chipmunk who apparently jumped during the photo, and he showed on the unretouched photo as a streak of chipmunk and a streak of see-through ground. It was all just what happened as opposed to planned–


  2. My mother in law smoked for 40 years or more. She came to live with us when her husband passed. We don’t allow smoking in the house, so she had to go out in the heat or cold. One day, she just decided to quit cold turkey. Of course, the damage is done, she is in end-stage Emphysema, COPD, and a spot on her lungs. Has to wear oxygen 24/7. Like you, I never started and never had the urge.


  3. I find it interesting that smoking was attached to intellectualism back then. I feel like self-proclaimed intellectuals in America seem to believe drugs is the new replacement. You aren’t truly enlightened in the circle of millennials I’ve met unless you’ve “lived” enough to have tried LSD, weed, and a dose of heroine.


      1. Haha, well I’m happy for them all. I enjoy being 100% sober. I don’t smoke or do drugs, though naturally almost everyone I meet assumes I do because I’m Jamaican and have dreads. -_-


  4. My Mother and Aunt both smoked heavily when they were young. It was very vogue. Even in my youth (about 25 years ago), cigarette adverts showed smoking to be manly and was associated with outdoor living and sport.


  5. Yes, it amazes me when I see re-runs of old television programs and see how prevalent smoking was; guests on talk shows seemed to smoke non-stop! With regard to the ad pictured, of the black woman smoking: I see “the message” as more strong and “independent” rather than “rebellious.”


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