Young woman lying on sofa & holding burning cigarette by Fitz W. Guerin, 1903
Very few women smoked at the turn of the century, because smoking was seen as immoral and a sign of bad character. This was very frustrating to tobacco companies. As George Washington Hill, president of American Tobacco said in 1928, convincing women to smoke “will be like opening a new gold mine in our front yard.” But, tobacco companies dared not advertise to women, for fear of sparking public outcry.
As the 20th century progressed, women began breaking down social and legal barriers. By the late 1920s, tobacco companies decided the time was ripe to take advantage of women’s progress. In 1928, American Tobacco launched its “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet” campaign to promote Lucky Strikes cigarettes. The ads, which capitalized on the “flapper era’s” new penchant for slenderness, were among the most successful marketing campaigns in history