Fact Check

Is This A Real Marlboro Cigarette Ad Featuring A Baby?

"Before you scold me, Mom …"

Published Jan 1, 2023

Claim:
An authentic Marlboro cigarette ad from the 1950s used the image of a baby to market cigarettes to women.

Several compilations of problematic tobacco ads feature a series of advertisements that use the imagery of a baby to market cigarettes to women:

These are authentic ads that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post (and perhaps other outlets) in the 1950s. An anti-marijuana letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic in 1951 makes specific reference to one of the ads above:

If we want to stop the marijuana dope traffic via the cigarette, we must first become aware that the tobacco smoking habit leads to it and all other habits. Before me now I have a clipping from the Saturday Evening Post, of a big company's cigarette ad. There is a photograph of a baby, mind you, and below that a drawing of a woman smoking a cigarette. The caption in big letters above the baby's photograph, "Before you scold me, Mom …. Maybe you'd better light up a … cigarette."

Because there are contemporary accounts of the specific ad, the claim that it is authentic is "True." In September 2022, we confirmed another instance of cigarettes being marketed to women with a picture of a baby.

 

Sources

britthyde. "Module 4: Unethical Tobacco Advertising." Global Strategic Communications & Ethics, 13 Feb. 2013, https://britthyde.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/unethical-tobacco-advertising/.

Russell, Mallory. "BABIES, PUPPIES AND SANTA: These Vintage Cigarette Spokespeople Are Grotesque." Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/vintage-cigarette-ads-spokespeople-2012-5. Accessed 23 Dec. 2022.

"The Dirty Weed." Arizona Republic, 24 Sept. 1951, p. 6. newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/115069212/the-dirty-weed/.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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