Monday, December 6, 2010


Many of the most popular television shows, including I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show,The Beverly Hillbillies and The Flintstones, were sponsored by tobacco companies.  In fact, I Love Lucy was originally sponsored by the Philip Morris tobacco company.  Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were often shown smoking.  Yes, even caveman Fred Flintstone and his friend Barney Rubble were seen puffing away in an ad for Winston cigarettes.   To view the ad, click on the link below.

In 1969, the United States Congress proposed a ban on all cigarette advertising on television and radio.  It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.  In the United Kingdom, all television commercials for cigarettes were banned on August 1, 1965.  However, commercials for loose tobacco and cigars continued in Britain until 1991.
The last television commercial for cigarettes in the United States was broadcast on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson at exactly one minute before midnight (11:59 p.m.) on January 1, 1971, just before the federal ban came into effect.  The ban took effect on January 2, 1971 in order to allow the cigarette companies one last opportunity to advertise during the New Year's bowl games.  By the way, the final U.S. tobacco ad on television featured model/actress Veronica Hamel.  Hamel went on to star in Hill Street Blues
Mad Men, the hit television series about an advertising agency in the 1960s, has created a stir with its depiction of characters chain-smoking as was common in the '60s (actors actually puff on foul-tasting vegetable cigarettes during the smoking scenes). Some have accused Mad Men of promoting smoking.  Recently, the central character of the show, Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) has begun an anti-smoking campaign, much to the dismay of his advertising agency. 
U.S. President Barack Obama has stated that he is a big fan of Mad Men.  According to a cover story in the New York Times Magazine, the president had a Mad Men DVD in his campaign plane.  Obama, as we know, is struggling to break the nicotine habit.

NOTE : During my years as a researcher at the library of the Toronto Star, I often chatted with former Star television critic Jim Bawden about TV and movies.  Jim is retired from the Star now, but he writes a blog.  I highly recommend that you read it at

- Joanne

No comments:

Post a Comment