Barron’s and tobacco over the years

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US Army nurses smoking cigarettes, circa 1947.

Library of Congress

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Before Beyoncé peddled Pepsi, Maureen O’Sullivan peddled Lucky Strikes.

“My reason for smoking Luckies is that they are so sweet and don’t cause any irritation to my throat,” O’Sullivan said in a Barron advert in 1932, the year she appeared as Jane in the film Tarzan the ape man. Other advertisements for this American Tobacco brand featured Hollywood stars such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Meanwhile, Liggett & Myers bought space in Barron to promote Chesterfield cigarettes (“They Satisfy!”) and his Granger pipe tobacco, with an ad featuring a father blowing smoke rings at the face of a young child in his arms.

The idea of ​​”sin stocks” hadn’t caught on in the 1930s, when smoking was as common as men wearing fedoras. Everyone has done it, helping to make tobacco stocks big winners, as most have been for over a century. In fact, an investment 100 years ago in

Altria

(MO) —then

Philip morris

– would have brought in 15% per year.

Maureen O’Sullivan in a Lucky Strike commercial published in a 1932 issue of Barron’s.

The dangers of tobacco would eventually become common knowledge, despite industry denials. Today, smoking is prohibited in most public places and some investment strategies. It is estimated that a third of US assets are now managed on a sustainable basis, which often means avoiding stocks related to tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment, cannabis, prisons, energy, etc. to meat and sugary drinks like Pepsi, which gave pop star Beyoncé a $ 50 million Marketing Deal.

When this magazine debuted in 1921, many people still rolled their own pipes or cigars, even though the cigarettes the company made had taken a boost in the battlefields of World War I, where they were. “the only readily available tobacco product” and “practically a necessity for maintaining morale”, Barron written in 1929. By that time, annual sales in the United States had doubled in 10 years to 106 billion cigarettes, and this publication stated that “the faster pace of business and the increased nervous tension of modern life Demanded “a short, quick smoke as a relief.”

Cigarette makers also courted women. Marlboro, later famous for his macho “Marlboro Man” (initially portrayed by an actor who claimed he didn’t smoke) was initially marketed by Philip Morris as the “favorite of women”.

The tobacco industry received another boost from WWII. By 1943, annual cigarette sales had climbed to 300 billion. It also started the rise of RJ Reynolds’ Camel brand, which surpassed Lucky Strike as a bestseller in 1948. An added benefit came from vending machines, which Barron nicknamed “the silent salesman” in 1950, when industry leader Rowe Corp. had 26,000 machines in service. These have become popular with underage smokers; silent vendors did not ask for ID.

A Camel ad in the November 15, 1943 issue of Barron’s.

In 1951, Barron wrote, an estimated 60 million of the 150 million people in the United States were smokers. Yet scientific evidence on the dangers of the habit was growing. In 1964, the Surgeon General published a landmark report linking smoking to health problems. In 1970, President Nixon signed a law banning tobacco advertisements on television and radio.

Barron responded with a front page article, “Plague of Censorship”. We argued that the scientific evidence for tobacco was still not established, citing the opinions of scientists such as Louis Soloff and Milton Rosenblatt. It was later revealed, in documents for a legal settlement, that the two had received secret payments from the Council for Tobacco Research, the propaganda arm of the industry.

In 1975, 660.7 billion US-made cigarettes were sold and Marlboro dethroned Winston as No.1. Camel fell to No.6, but was still the preferred unfiltered smoke by a margin of two. to one on Lucky Strike.

A cigarette and smoking tobacco exhibit in Crystal City, Texas, in 1939.

Russell Lee / FSA / OWI Collection / Library of Congress

But the percentage of American smokers had peaked in the 1960s. By 1985, the industry was losing customers and facing lawsuits alleging a link between smoking and disease. Sanford C. Bernstein called on Philip Morris to buy, noting that the tobacco industry has never lost in court before.

This streak of success came to an end in 1994, after the top executives of Big Tobacco were dragged to Congress, where, in televised hearings, they argued that there was no conclusive evidence that the smoking causes cancer or other illnesses.

In May of the same year, Mississippi sued the industry to recover health care costs. Dozens of prosecutions from other states would follow; these led to the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, in which the four tobacco majors (Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard) agreed to pay $ 206 billion over 25 years and to further restrict their marketing practices.

The settlement burned the industry, but did not send its fortunes up in smoke. Indeed, since the signing of the agreement, the Dow Jones Tobacco index (+331.7%) has beaten the industrial Dow (273.2%) and the S&P 500 index (244.8%).

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