In the 1930s, the American Medical Association's official
journal starting publishing cigarette ads. That went on for years.
It was Camel, named for the Turkish paper it used, that in 1946
began a major ad push showing doctors lighting up with the famous
tagline, "More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette."
(According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in reality,
this "independent" surveying was conducted by R.J. Reynolds' ad
agency, the William Esty Co., who would send staff to query
physicians about their smoking habits at medical conferences and in
their offices. They'd ask about their cigarette brand of choice,
most of the time, after just having provided the good doctors with
free cartons of Camels.)
The campaign lasted for eight years.
In one of the spots from that push, this black-and-white TV
commercial from 1949, the voice-over aims to change smokers'
preference to Camel using "research" stating that rival brands were
harsher. The mild taste is preferable even for doctors, such as the
actor in the ad who poses as a busy MD, taking puffs from
cigarettes in the car in between house calls and in the office
while nurses hand him paperwork. It's amazing to imagine that was
ever even allowed, isn't it?
Here's what the voice-over says:
"You know, if you were to follow a busy doctor as he
makes his daily round of calls, you'd find yourself having a mighty
busy time keeping up with him. 'Time out' for many men of medicine
usually means just long enough to enjoy a cigarette. And because
they know what a pleasure it is to smoke a mild, good-tasting
cigarette, they're particular about the brand they choose. In a
repeated national say, doctors in all branches of medicine, doctors
in all parts of the country, were asked, 'What cigarette do you
smoke, doctor?' Once again, the brand named most was Camel. Yes,
according to this repeated nationwide survey, more doctors smoke
Camels than any other cigarette. Why not change to Camels for the
next 30 days, and see what a difference it makes in your smoking
enjoyment? See how Camels agree with your throat. See how mild and
good-tasting a cigarette can be."
The spot closes with a glamorous women taking a luxurious drag
off a cigarette, and turning to the camera to flash a big,
Although there was evidence being gathered about the ill effects
of smoking even as these ads ran, it wasn't until the 1960s that
America really began to take heed -- as "Mad Men" fans will
remember from the episode where Don Draper writes an open letter denouncing
Lucky Strike. However, Draper continues to smoke even after that
According to the National Library of Medicine, a Gallup Survey
conducted in 1958 found that only 44% of Americans believed smoking
caused cancer, while 78% believed so by 1968. But as we all know,
cigarette advertising endured for years. As recently as 1991 the
American Medical Association published findings from a report that
stated kindergarteners could more easily recognize the "Joe Camel"
character used by the brand in later years than they could
characters such as Barbie or Mickey Mouse, which brought the
campaign to an end.