Since World War II (1939-45), the cigarette companies have been trying to get women to smoke. Through ads, smoking has been pictured as going along with independence, careers, sexual freedom, as well as beauty. Since the 1970's, Virginia Slims ads have said, "You've come a long way, baby." Ultra Slims, the long thin cigarettes, were made for women. In ads of these types of cigarettes, the women look very thin to give the idea that smoking will not make a person fat. Cigarette ads appear in most women's magazines, such as Glamour, Redbook, Working Women, Cosmopolitan, People, and Vogue.
Cigarettes are heavily advertised in African-American magazines too. Ebony, Jet, and Essence magazines have ads showing beautiful and handsome Black men and women smoking. Outdoor billboards have been another way for tobacco companies to reach African-Americans. The number of outdoor billboards advertising cigarettes is four times higher in Black communities than in White communities. Cigarette companies target mentholated cigarettes to Blacks. Newports, Kools, and Salems are very popular brands among African-Americans. Because mentholated cigarettes can be inhaled deeper into the lungs, they are more dangerous than non-mentholated ones.
Whether they were made for teens, women, or African-Americans, all cigarette ads have the same message: smoking is fun, healthy, and attractive. Ads show men who look masculine or manly, hip, cool, adventurous, mature, and strong. Women look sexy, stylish, beautiful, glamorous, relaxed, secure, and independent. Many ads show athletic people who are wind surfers, aerobic dancers, motor cycle racers, horseback riders, roller bladers, and basketball players.
Cigarette ads give the impression that smokers are "Alive with pleasure" and that smoking is good for you. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. government has labelled cigarettes as a dangerous drug that causes lung cancer, heart disease, and many other serious illnesses and conditions. Many people all over the country are talking about whether tobacco companies should be allowed to advertise cigarettes or even to make cigarettes.