During the 1950s it was usual for a TV show's
leading character to not only use the sponsor's
product on camera but actively hawk it
One such example was TVs first
private eye Martin Kane (William Gargan) from
MARTIN KANE, PRIVATE EYE/NBC/1949-54 whose
favorite hangout was Happy McMann's tobacco
Martin routinely visited the store during
every episode and openly requested the sponsor's
brand of cigarettes. The series was sponsored by
Old Briar Tobacco and Sano & Encore cigarettes.
According to Variety, Camel cigarettes was the
first cigarette company to stake a claim in the
major daytime TV programming with Cavalier
cigarettes, an R.J. Reynolds product.
cost of television production increased, the
single sponsorship of a series slowly
disappeared and so did their control over the
scripts and the practice of putting in overt
plugging of a product.
In 1964, debate over the airing of cigarette
commercials heated up after the U.S. Surgeon
General issued a report finding smoking a health
Helped by pressure from the
American Medical Association, the Federal
government banned the broadcast of cigarette
advertisements in America on both television and
radio beginning January 1971 (per the Public
Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969). This ban
effectively stripped the broadcast business of
about $200 million in advertising profits.
addition, the Television Code of the National
Association of Broadcasters was revised to
admonish the "glamorous, romantic or heroic"
depiction of cigarette smoking in programming.
In 1986, the AMA asked for new Federal laws
prohibiting tobacco advertising in magazines,
newspapers and billboards.
Yul Brynner, famous throughout the world for his
role of the King in the musical "The King & I"
died of lung cancer on October 10, 1985 at the
age of 65 years.
A five-pack-a-day smoker, Brynner warned against the deadly habit during
an interview on a segment of GOOD MORNING
AMERICA in January 1985. Brynner said:
wanted to make a commercial when I discovered
that I was sick and my time was so limited...It
would say...Now that I'm gone, I tell you: don't
smoke. Whatever you do just don't smoke...If I
could take back that smoking we wouldn't be
talking about any cancer. I'm convinced of
With the permission of Brynner's family,
the American Cancer Society produced a
television spot incorporating Yul's powerful
The above listings are references to TV
celebrities and characters who savored the
addictive satisfaction of tobacco products or
just used them as props during their acting
the Tobacco Industry Killed American Soldiers in
World War 2"
Smoking causes mouth, lung cancer, emphysema....
Oh my god, you quit smoking. You committed this
madness without consulting me first? Are you nuts? You're selfish.
You ex-smokers are more relentless than AA or the Moonies or those
born-again vegetarians. Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not gonna
let you bully me about this. I don't wanna hear about how your
lungs are pinker than a newborn baby's or how you're free of mucus
and phlegm. It's all a bunch of nonsense. It's all a bunch of
crap. I don't want you counting the number of days you've gone
without a cigarette when you're supposed to be watching my back.
You put my life on the line. I'll put in for hazard pay. No, you
know what? I'll put in for another partner.
-- Homicide: Life on the Street
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