I’ve seen ads like this before in issues of LIFE Magazine from the 1940s that I inherited from my uncle, but they never cease to make me cringe when I see them:


(Click for a larger image and to read the text of the ad more clearly.)

Get a load of the text:

Family physicians, surgeons, diagnosticians, nose and throat specialists, doctors in every branch of medicine … a total of 113,597 doctors … were asked: “What cigarette do you smoke?” And more of them named Camel as their smoke than any other cigarette! Three independent research groups found this to be a fact.

One thing I could never understand is how physicians could fail to realize for so long that sucking noxious gases and particulate matter into one’s lungs as often as 40-60 times a day might–just might–be bad for you. In any case, this ad is yet another reminder of just how much times have changed in 60 years.


  1. #1 natural cynic
    June 17, 2007

    This just about says it all

    p.s. He was a non-smoker!

  2. #2 GP
    June 17, 2007

    I had an Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First?” radio program on a Radio Memories cassette. They left the radio broadcast exactly as it was aired, and the main sponsor was Camel cigarettes. I’ve always remembered their tag line, which was “Four out of five doctors prefer the smooth taste of Camel Cigarettes”.

  3. #3 Bronze Dog
    June 17, 2007

    I remember attending a local performance of “Reefer Madness”, a live action recreation of one of the early insane-o anti-marijuana propaganda films.

    It opens with a doctor/lecturer smoking a tobacco cigarette. That alone invoked a number of chuckles from the audience.

  4. #4 Stevencnz
    June 17, 2007

    One thing I have always wondered about this type of ad is:
    What proportion of Drs did not smoke?

  5. #5 coz
    June 17, 2007

    Reminds me of
    “9 out of 10 men who have tried Camels prefer women”

    I have no idea where I first heard that or wheres its from but nothings wrong with a cheap laugh.

  6. #6 sailor
    June 17, 2007

    Now wait a minute:
    … a total of 113,597 doctors … were asked: “What cigarette do you smoke?” And more of them named Camel as their smoke than any other cigarette!
    From this there could have been three smokers and two used Camel.
    lies, damned lies, and statistics

  7. #7 sailor
    June 17, 2007

    Orac you might enjoy this:


    Tomatso takes a holistic approach to a client’s financial affairs, seeking to rebalance them in the therapist’s favour

  8. #8 khan
    June 17, 2007

    I like that part about the T-Zone.

    You can tell a female smoker (even if former) by those special wrinkles above the upper lip.

  9. #9 anonimouse
    June 17, 2007

    Excessive alcohol consumption, gambling, and indiscriminate sex are also bad for you – and we know that doctors don’t engage in those activities at all.

  10. #10 Eamon Knight
    June 17, 2007

    As a kid in the 60’s, I recall our GP smoking in his office. Seemed bizarre to me, who was raised in a non-smoking household.

    What gets me nowadays is, when I visit a hospital, how many nurses there are outside in the smoking zone. I guess it’s how they deal with job stress.

  11. #11 Joseph Hertzlinger
    June 18, 2007

    It looks like the tobacco companies were trying to create a belief in a pro-tobacco consensus among experts in lieu of using any actual arguments.

  12. #12 Justin Moretti
    June 18, 2007

    The bit about “how it affects your throat” seems almost ominous in retrospect, as those smokers who have (in broad brush-stroke terms) had their throats removed can testify.

    The clincher for me was at age four, or maybe five (1976) when my grandmother (who smoked) died of Leukaemia (I don’t know which sort). Back then, of course, I didn’t know that leukaemia and smoking weren’t connected, but I put together in my mind “Cancer” and “smoking”, and vowed that I would not dare.

    It put the fear of God in me. And I’m glad of that today, because I never had a nasty habit to feed – or to kick. That was over thirty years ago; I cannot comprehend how young people today can take it up.

  13. #13 Chris Noble
    June 18, 2007

    Thanks to Sir Richard Doll the times have changed.

    The original epidemiological study was on doctors

  14. #14 MikeB
    June 18, 2007

    I worked at the Royal Marsden (the UK’s leading cancer hospital) in Chelsea until a couple of years ago. The League of Friends were slightly embarrassed to find in their archive a picture of their hospital shop in the 1950’s actually selling ciggies – seemingly it was all part of the service.

    Eamon has it right about nurses and other staff smoking – there were always a fair number outside in all weathers, having a quick puff. But when I asked them why they did it, they tended to give a little smile and say ‘I’ve tried to give up…’. There was actually a smoking room inside the hospital, for the patients are too addicted to give up (mostly terminal), but strangely the NHS as a whole only finally brought in a rule to ban smoking in hospitals in 2006.

  15. #15 jokergirl
    June 18, 2007

    Nurses here are the profession with the highest smoker vs. nonsmoker rate (note that in Sweden the general rate of regular, not social smokers is lower and there are other nicotine-containing products that may influence this). I think it is the general stress of the profession together with the fact that a cigarette is one of the few possibilities to escape outside the hospital that causes this.

  16. #16 ursula
    June 18, 2007

    In his first year in secondary school (late 70’s), my husband was sent by a teacher down to the shop to get some cigarettes. At the school I went to, I recall the blast of smoke coming from the staff room as the door opened.

  17. #17 khan
    June 18, 2007

    I had an aunt who was a smoker in the ’50s and ’60s and 70s. She was a nurse, She said she quit after seeing cancer patients smoking through the hole in the throat.

  18. #18 Brent McKee
    June 19, 2007

    Around here the local health district recently extended the ban on smoking from just the city’s three hospitals but to all health district property, which basically means no smoking on hospital grounds including (i presume) the parking lots. Hallelujah!

  19. #19 James Taylor
    June 19, 2007

    Orac, you may have seen this already, but Tulsa just unearthed a car buried as a time capsule in 1957. The most interesting part about it was the description of the contents of a “typical” woman’s handbag…

    The contents of a “typical” woman’s handbag, including 14 bobby pins, lipstick and a bottle of tranquilizers, were supposed to be in the glove box, but all that was found looked like a lump of rotted leather.


  20. #20 aby
    June 19, 2007

    My daughter is a patient at a major cancer hospital and I am always dumbfounded by the fact that there are regularly people standing just outside of the hospital doors – smoking.

  21. #21 RJW
    June 20, 2007

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m more amazed about the “a minimum of $15,000” for seven years of schools. That’s a semester these days.

  22. #22 Julia
    June 24, 2007

    My great-grandfather, who was a doctor, sent his eldest (my grandmother) and all his sons to medical school, and his other daughters to nursing school (except the one who didn’t graduate from high school until after his death).

    The 3 older ones never smoked, the last 4 all took up smoking, and only the youngest gave it up well before dying.

    (The eldest was born in 1900, the youngest in 1923. I think the oldest one who took up smoking was born in 1909, but I’d have to double-check that.)

    I’ve found this rather odd for awhile now.

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