The Good Life: When smoking was groovy

By Published on .

This Valentine's Day, remember that nothing says "I love you" like sharing a charcoal-filtered cancer stick. Put some flavor in your cig and share it!

Introduced in 1963, Lark has never become an American mainstay cigarette brand. Owned by Phillip Morris since 1999, the brand is more popular in Japan, where James Bond actors Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore starred in TV spots in the 1980s.

Lark's point of differentiation has historically been that the cigarettes has charcoal granules embedded in the filter, a fact used in marketing to suggest the brand as a healthier alternative. The scientific community never did come to a solid consensus on whether smoking through a charcoal "gas-trap" was better for you—or worse.

That's not to say Lark never cracked the cultural consciousness. Its best-remembered ads included a jingle with the words, "Have a Lark, have a Lark, have a Lark today" sung to tune of the "William Tell Overture." Its TV commercials centered around an off-screen voice demanding passersby to "show us your Lark pack." (On his 1972 "FM & AM" album, George Carlin joked, "Don't try that Lark thing in the Bowery. Those guys will show you their Larks, man.")

In this groovy earth-tone and aviator-glasses print ad, also from 1972, Lark leans into its charcoal as a flavor enhancer.

"Smoke from the finest tobaccos filtered through a bed of real charcoal to enrich the flavor and soften the taste," reads the fine print. The hot-air balloon with the Lark brand name looming in the background is meant to symbolize the smoothness of the cigs, not the fact that they expedited one's journey to the afterlife.

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