In the Golden Age of Hollywood, movie theaters were crucial venues for tobacco advertisements. Philip Morris utilized a midget page boy, Johnny Roventini, whose “Call for Philip Morreees” was an industry icon for a quarter of a century.
Movie stars were highly influential as smoking role models. The America Tobacco Company sent free cartons of Lucky Strikes to entice stars like Humphrey Bogart to smoke and show the Lucky Strike package on the big screen, as in the 1942 movie “Casablanca.”
Cigarette companies used health themes in many of their advertisements.
Frank Statement to Smokers was published in over 400 newspapers in January 1954. The companies made three pledges to reassure smokers that they were tracking the emerging evidence linking smoking and cancer.
- “We accept an interest in people’s health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business.
- We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.
The Tobacco Industry Research Committee (T.I.R.C.) was formed in January, 1954 as an independent entity to carefully study the claims that smoking caused disease. However, internal business records released decades later have revealed that it was set up as PR gesture to assure the public the companies were serious about the smoking and health issue and not as a serious effort to find out the truth about smoking and cancer.
The sale of filter tip cigarettes skyrocketed in the 1950s. By naming their filters with pseudo technological and comforting phrases such as: Selectrate, Micronite, Dual Filter and Miracle Tip, the companies were selling more than cigarettes, they were selling the assurance of safety.
Filtering tar and nicotine from the smoke became an industry fetish. In spite of the fact there was no standard protocol for measuring cigarette yield until the 1967 F.T.C. Report each company touted its filter brands as the bes.