Fact Check

Is This a Real Vintage Ad Featuring a Pregnant Woman Smoking?

An ad for “Nico Time Cigarettes” boasts “The smooth taste expectant mothers crave.”

Published May 27, 2023

 (BioShock Wiki/Nico-Time)
Image Via BioShock Wiki/Nico-Time
A real vintage advertisement for “Nico-Time Cigarettes” shows a pregnant woman smoking and features the caption, “The smooth taste expectant mothers crave.”

The advertisement in question came from the BioShock video game series.

An image of a vintage poster advertising cigarettes that has been circulating on the internet for several years features a pregnant woman smoking. The image in question purports to advertise "Nico Time Cigarettes" as "The smooth taste expectant mothers crave." 

Numerous posts sharing the image claimed that it was real, including this one from 2020 that stated, "Retro advert. Thankfully we know better today": 

One post from 2021 shared the image with the caption, "Always trust 'Science'".  

This advertisement is fake and not really an old promotion for smoking targeting expectant mothers. "Nico Time" is a fictional brand of cigarettes featured in the world of the video game BioShock. The BioShock series is a first-person shooter game that in some installments takes place in the fictional underwater city of Rapture that devolves into "a dystopian nightmare wrought by one man's hubris." 

The same advert can be found on the BioShock game's fan-run Wiki, which describes the history of the brand in the fictional world:

Nico-Time (or Nico Time) is a brand of cigarettes in Rapture. It was a fairly popular brand while Rapture was still a functioning society, before the Civil War broke up. Nico-Time was affordable, making it the perfect choice for Albert Milonakis, a proud smoker of the brand. The cigarettes were rumored to be made out of sea shells and fish eggs, as real tobacco was not easy to produce under the sea, making it a lower quality than its competitor Oxford Club. The brand's logo is an eagle. When the halls of Rapture turned into battlefields, Nico-Time Tobacco sacks were used to build barricades.

But outside of fan-run sites, the brand can be found in screenshots from the game itself. On Steam, an online gaming platform that allows players to interact with each other, livestream games, and more, a screenshot of the "advertisement" was found in BioShock Infinite during an episode titled "Burial at Sea DLC - Ep.1." This particular episode was released in 2013. 

The fandom wiki credits Kat Nicole Berkley for creating the fake advertisement. Her ArtStation resume notes that she contributed to "Bioshock Infinite DLC: Burial at Sea Episode 2 (2013-2014)" and "Bioshock Infinite DLC: Burial at Sea (2013-2013)."

We looked through gamers' recordings of their experiences with the game on YouTube, and came across a different "Nico Time" advertisement visible in the world of the game.

(Screenshot via TheRadBrad/YouTube)


'BioShock: The Collection." 2K. https://2k.com/en-US/game/bioshock-the-collection/. Accessed 25 May 2023.

Karmali, Luke. "Ken Levine Defends BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Length." IGN, 11 Nov. 2013, https://www.ign.com/articles/2013/11/11/ken-levine-defends-bioshock-infinite-burial-at-sea-length. Accessed 25 May 2023.

"Kat Nicole Berkley: Concept Artist at Firaxis Games." ArtStation, kberkley.artstation.com/resume.

"Nico-Time." BioShock Wiki, https://bioshock.fandom.com/wiki/Nico-Time. Accessed 25 May 2023.

"Steam Community :: Screenshot :: Nico Time Cigarettes Advertisement [Burial at Sea DLC - Ep.1]." Steam, Dec. 2, 2013, https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=200120859. Accessed 25 May 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.