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The Ginny Jump Jacket and Sports Shorts will bring out the athlete in you

This Virginia Slims ad came in the middle period of tobacco ad regulation — restrictions were just coming into place, including placement of the Surgeon General Warning, but subject matter was still pretty … well, misleading. Still, it had come a long way from ads that frankly claimed that cigarettes themselves improved your health — even touting cigarettes as a weight-loss aid in the 1930s with ads showing jowly multichinned shadows and admonishing, When tempted, reach for a Lucky instead.

Cigarette advertising is very limited now, but companies still actively promote products on the basis of sketchy health claims. The advertising and public relations industries are expert in sowing both doubt and certainty, and they are mindful of the Federal Trade Commission’s rules about what they can and can’t say.

You can learn more about the history of cigarette ads at Stanford’s research site on tobacco advertising.

Oh, and let’s head back toward the slogan that probably inspired that Lucky campaign, the late 19th-Century campaign, Reach for a vegetable instead of a sweet. Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound was an alcoholic preparation marketed to relieve menstrual symptoms (as alcohol can), but carrot sticks and other crunchy snacks are a better replacement to aid health and weight management.

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