Basic (cigarette)

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Warning on the French Cigarettes Pack.jpg
An old French pack of Basic cigarettes with a French text warning which reads "Smoking seriously harms you and those around"
Product typeCigarette
OwnerPhilip Morris USA (U.S. only), Philip Morris International (Rest of the world)
Produced byPhilip Morris USA (U.S. only), Philip Morris International (Rest of the world)
CountryUnited States
IntroducedLate 1970s
MarketsSee Markets
Tagline"The best things in life are Basic", "Keep it Basic"

Basic is an American brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by Philip Morris USA in the U.S. and by Philip Morris International outside of the U.S.


Basic was launched in the late 1970s as a discount brand.[1]

As of 2005, Basic is the fourth most popular cigarette brand in the United States (following Marlboro, Newport, and Camel)[2] and the second most popular among white smokers age 26 and older.[3]


In the 1990s and 2000s, Philip Morris USA has made various type of poster advertisements to promote the Basic brand in the United States. The most known slogans were "The best things in life are Basic" and "Keep it Basic".[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

The 1990s had a signature style and lifestyle and Basic was one of the first to recognize and use this style to market to teens. The 'grunge' theme of the early nineties was very popular among teens and pre-teens; and was characterized by sloppy attire and flannel shirts. The campaign idealized the norm instead of the unobtainable perfect looks and personality and was widely popular among teens and sadly even those under the age of eighteen. Another important theme was that of value: "It tastes good and costs less". This was important in Basic’s popularity because with cigarette prices on the rise middle to low income people wanted a cigarette that wouldn’t break the bank. The themes of style and value came together with an advertisement that had the 3-piece suit tagline because it illustrated that even if you didn't want to spend a lot of money you could still be fashionable and have great cigarettes.[6]

Salt and pepper shakers were also made as a collectible, and were given to you if you would buy a pack of Basic cigarettes.[14]


Basic cigarettes are mainly sold in the United States, but also were or still are sold in Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Czech Republic, Hong Kong and Japan.[1][15][16]


PM USA recalls 8 million faulty cigarettes[edit]

In May 1995, it was reported that a $100 million recall involving more than eight billion filtered cigarettes, including its Marlboro, Virginia Slims and Benson & Hedges brands. The company said manufacturing defects in filters could cause smokers "temporary discomfort" from an irritant similar to a commercial pesticide.

Since there was no way to identify the defective cigarettes by scrutinizing their boxes or cartons, the company asked all smokers of 36 of its product lines to return them to retailers immediately for a full refund. It offered a 24-hour toll-free number, (800) 757-2555, that consumers, wholesalers and retailers could call with questions. Marlboro is the world's best-selling brand of cigarette. Besides it, Virginia Slims and Benson & Hedges, the other Philip Morris brands being recalled were these: Alpine Lights, Basic, Best Buy, Bristol Lights, Bronson, Cambridge Lights, Merit, Premium Buy Lights and Shield. Each label had a variety of lengths, strengths and package types.

"We regret this inconvenience to our customers and to our retailers," said James J. Morgan, president and chief executive of Philip Morris U.S.A. The recall, which Philip Morris termed voluntary and which analysts and industry observers said was unprecedented, came a half-hour before the close of The New York Stock Exchange. It led to a flurry of selling that ran down Philip Morris stock to $69.875, a loss of $2.

The company said it had not been able to determine whether any of the defective cigarettes had been sold to consumers. Mr. Morgan said the company had not heard complaints from any smokers, although its own quality-control workers identified the problem on May 19 1995. The company has not shipped a single filter cigarette since then from any of its three manufacturing plants, in Richmond; Louisville, Kentucky., and Cabarrus, North Carolina.[17][18]


Basic comes in several different varieties:

  • Red (Full Flavor) - Soft: Kings & 100s, Box: Kings & 100s
  • Gold Pack (Lights) - Soft: Kings & 100s, Box: Kings & 100s
  • Blue Pack (Ultra Lights) - Soft: Kings & 100s, Box: Kings & 100s
  • Menthol (Full Flavor) - Soft: Kings & 100s, Box: Kings & 100s
  • Menthol Gold Pack (Lights) - Soft: Kings & 100s, Box: Kings & 100s
  • Menthol Silver (Ultra Lights) - Box: Kings & 100s
  • Non-Filter - Soft: Kings

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "BrandBasic - Cigarettes Pedia".
  2. ^ "Cigarette Brand Preferences in 2005". National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2007-01-12. Retrieved 2007-04-20.
  3. ^ "Chapter 7. Tobacco Product Brand Preferences". National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2007-01-12. Retrieved 2007-04-20.
  4. ^ "Vintage Tobacco/ Cigarette Ads of the 2000s".
  5. ^ Psychol., Jim Hagart, C. "All of the Ads of the Month included on Jim Hagart's Subliminal World from August, 1998 to December, 2000".
  6. ^ a b "A Brief History of Cigarette Advertising - home".
  7. ^ "1997 Basic Cigarettes ad".
  8. ^ "1999 Basic Cigarette Ad - Keep it Basic". Vintage Paper Ads.
  9. ^ "Introduction - Let it Pass".
  10. ^ "1994 Basic Cigarettes Ad - Your Basic Catch". Vintage Paper Ads.
  11. ^ "1996 Basic Cigarettes Ad - Your Basic Banquet". Vintage Paper Ads.
  12. ^ "1999 Basic Cigarette Ad - Keep it Basic". Vintage Paper Ads.
  13. ^ "1998 Basic Cigarettes Ad". Vintage Paper Ads.
  14. ^ "Collectible Advertising Salt & Pepper from Basic Cigarettes: Home & Kitchen".
  15. ^ "Basic".
  16. ^ "Brands".
  17. ^ "Tobacco Giant Recalls 8 Billion Faulty Cigarettes". The New York Times. 27 May 1995.
  18. ^ Suplee, Sharon Walsh; Curt (27 May 1995). "PHILIP MORRIS ORDERS RECALL OF CIGARETTES" – via