Camel (cigarette)

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Japanese packs of Camel White and Black
Product type Cigarette
Owner R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Country United States
Introduced 1913; 105 years ago (1913)
Markets See Markets

Camel is a brand of cigarettes that was introduced by American company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in 1913. Most current Camel cigarettes contain a blend of Turkish tobacco and Virginia tobacco. Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the city where R.J. Reynolds was founded, is nicknamed "Camel City" because of the brand's popularity.[1]


In 1913, R.J. Reynolds innovated the packaged cigarette.[2] Prior cigarette smokers rolled their own, which tended to obscure the potential for a national market for a pre-packaged product.[2] Reynolds worked to develop a more appealing flavor, creating the Camel cigarette, so named because it used Turkish tobacco[2] in imitation of then-fashionable Egyptian cigarettes. Reynolds priced them below competitors,[which?] and within a year, he had sold 425 million packs.[2]

Camel cigarettes were originally blended to have a milder taste than established brands. They were advance-promoted by a careful advertising campaign that included "teasers" simply stating "the Camels are coming"[2] (a play on the old Scottish folk song, "The Campbells Are Coming"). This marketing style was a prototype for subsequent attempts to sway public opinion into backing the United States' entry into World War I, and later World War II. Another promotion was 'Old Joe', a circus camel driven through towns used to attract attention and distribute free cigarettes. The brand's slogan, used for decades, was "I'd walk a mile for a Camel!"

The iconic style of Camel is the original unfiltered cigarette sold in a soft pack, known as Camel Straights or Regulars. Its popularity peaked through the brand's use by famous personalities such as news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, who use was so heavy and public smoking a Camel no-filter became his trademark.[3]

A 1915 Camels ad from The New York Times, offering a money-back guarantee with the injunction, "Premiums or coupons don't go with Camels, because the cost of the choice quality tobaccos makes it impossible for us to give them"

In Europe, Camel is also a brand of cigarette rolling papers and loose cigarette tobacco, maintaining a top 20 roll-your-own rank in Northern Europe with yearly expansion into Southern and Eastern Europe according to the European Subsidiary's annual report.

On July 1, 2000, an "Oriental" variety of Camel was introduced, followed by Turkish Gold, a regular cigarette, in 2000, and Turkish Jade, a menthol, in 2001. In 2005 Camel added its name on the cigarette paper and changed the filter color and design on its Oriental version, which was subsequently discontinued then reinstated. Also in 2005, Turkish Silvers were introduced, an ultralight version positioned in strength below Turkish Gold "lights" and "full flavor" Turkish Royal.

In 2012 Camel was surpassed by Pall Mall as R.J. Reynolds' most popular brand.[4]

As of June 2012, Camel filters were discontinued in the United Kingdom. Camel Blue, the light version, is available from Tesco.

In 2013, Camel celebrated its 100th anniversary. Professor Robert N. Proctor of Stanford University commemorated the occasion with an editorial in the LA Times, noting that over the last century Camel sold over 4 trillion cigarettes.[5]

Filtered Camel cigarettes sold outside the US by JT International do not contain Turkish tobacco, instead they are produced in Romania with local tobacco.[citation needed]


Smoking billboard, Times Square, 1948
Camel Natural Flavor — "smoking may reduce the blood flow and causes impotence" (European tobacco package warning)

Graphic design[edit]

The Reynolds company commissioned Fred Otto Kleesattel in 1913 to draw the original artwork. The signature scene on most Camel cigarette packs shows a single dromedary, the smallest of the three species of camel, standing on desert sand, with pyramids and palm trees in the background. The back features bazaars and mosques. On European and some other non-U.S. versions, the desert motifs have been replaced by health warnings. On others, Kleesattel included "Manneken Pis", a historical figure of Brussels.

Known as "Fritz", Kleesattel was a highly sought after graphic designer living in Louisville, Kentucky. He was hired through his company, Klee Ad Art, to design the packaging for the new Camel cigarettes' line. Klee Ad Art was also integral in devising designs for Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries, and many other now immediately recognizable U.S. brands. While serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, Kleesattel worked as a camouflage artist, disguising buildings, vehicles and other potential targets by making them blend with their surroundings.

Package texts[edit]

The reverse sides of many packs or boxes of Camel cigarettes display variations of the following text:

Turkish tobacco is the world's smoothest, most aromatic leaf. Blending it with more robust domestic tobaccos is the secret to Camel's distinctive flavor and world-class smoothness.

In 2008, this was changed to:

A master-crafted blend of only the finest hand-picked Samsun & Izmir Turkish tobaccos with a robust domestic tobacco blend creates Camel's distinctive flavor and world-class smoothness.

The reverse side of the five "Turkish Blend" cigarettes display this message along with a description that differs depending on the blend:

Turkish tobacco is the world's smoothest, most aromatic leaf.

The reverse side of unfiltered "soft pack" Camel cigarettes has displayed this text for many years, a theme also used by R. J. Reynolds in its advertising as early as 1915:

Don't look for premiums or coupons, as the cost of the tobaccos blended in Camel Cigarettes prohibits the use of them.

Or alternatively can be seen displaying the text (later removed from some packets with the introduction of health warning messages):

Camel, a premium blend of the finest quality tobaccos, provides genuine smoking pleasure.

The reverse side of unfiltered "soft pack" Camel cigarettes, produced by JT International reads:

CAMEL cigarettes contain a blend of choice Turkish and American tobaccos to bring you full smoking satisfaction with CAMEL quality.

Camel Wides, starting in 2008, began displaying this on the reverse side of the pack:

The larger gauge of a Camel Wides cigarette makes for the smoothest, flavorful way to enjoy Camel's distinctive blend of the finest Turkish and Domestic tobaccos.

Ad campaigns[edit]

In 1936, Camel used the slogan "For digestion's sake - smoke Camels." The ads ran from 1936 to 1939. In 1951, over a decade after the ad campaign ended, the FTC issued a cease-and-desist order prohibiting R.J.Reynolds from claiming that Camels aided digestion in any respect.[6]

In the 1940s, Camel advertised their cigarettes as being the favorite choice among doctors, making smokers believe it was safe to smoke them.[7][8]

In late 1987, RJR created "Joe Camel" as a brand mascot. In 1991, the American Medical Association published a report stating that 5- and 6-year olds could more easily recognize Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny or even Barbie.[9] This led the association to ask RJR to terminate the Joe Camel campaign. RJR declined, but further appeals followed in 1993 and 1994. On July 10, 1997, the Joe Camel campaign was retired and replaced with a more adult campaign which appealed to the desires of its mid twenties target market. Camel paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits accusing them of using Joe Camel to market smoking to children.[10]

Camel Cash[edit]

"Camel Cash", or "C-Note", was a promotional ticket stuck to the back of filtered varieties of Camel cigarettes. It was made to vaguely resemble currency and could be exchanged for items from the Camel Cash catalog. It could not be used, however, to purchase Camel tobacco products.

The artwork changed many times over the years, and in the past included the face of Joe Camel, much in the same way as presidents are featured on American currency; later designs just used a Camel silhouette like the one on the Camel logo, after Joe Camel was discontinued. Camel Cash redemption expired on March 31, 2007, angering some smokers who had been saving up the cash for a long period of time only to find it worthless suddenly.



The Lotus 100T sponsored by Camel.

From 1972–1993, Camel was the title sponsor of the then-popular IMSA auto racing series, titled as Camel GT. From 1987 to 1990, Camel sponsored the Lotus Formula One team, and then sponsored the Benetton team and the Williams team from 1991 to 1993, Camel's last year as a sponsor in Formula One. In the early to mid-1990s, Camel sponsored the factory Honda team in the AMA Superbike series, as well as sponsoring the USHRA and AMA Supercross Championship, resulting in the Camel Mud & Monster Series, and the Camel Supercross Series. In 1994 Winston Cup season of NASCAR, Camel sponsored Hut Stricklin's #23 Ford Thunderbird & In 1995-97 Winston Cup season's of NASCAR, Camel sponsored Jimmy Spencer's #23 Ford Thunderbird. From 2003-2005 Camel was the title sponsor of Sito Pons' MotoGP Team and then for the 2006 season Camel signed on to become the title sponsor of Yamaha's factory team, but due to European Tobacco Regulations, the company had to end their association with Yamaha at the end of the 2006 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season.


Camel was a sponsor of the 1986 FIFA World Cup.[11]

Break free adventure[edit]

In 2010, R.J. Reynolds planned to sell Camel packs showing one of ten locations to be visited by the Camel mascot, including Seattle, Washington; Austin, Texas; San Francisco, Las Vegas; New Orleans; Bonneville Flats, Utah; Sturgis, South Dakota; Route 66; and the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The Winston-Salem package showed a tobacco field and the city's skyline, including the former R.J. Reynolds headquarters. During a ten-week period, visitors to a website were asked to guess which city would be next. Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, accused the company of targeting children once again, saying, "The new campaign cynically uses the names and images of trendy U.S. destinations … in an attempt to make Camel cigarettes cool again." David Howard of R.J. Reynolds emphasized the campaign was geared toward adults and pointed out only adults could access the website.[12][13][14]

New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley and the National Association of Attorneys General both sent Reynolds letters asking that the campaign is stopped. The organization said that it violated the 1998 tobacco settlement. Reynolds denied that children were being targeted and said the campaign did not go against the settlement. Other cities and states also stated their objections including San Francisco and Seattle.[14]

In art[edit]

The Camel pack is featured prominently in Tom Robbins' 1980 novel Still Life with Woodpecker, billed as "a love story that happens inside a pack of cigarettes". The book's artwork is modeled after a pack of Camels, and the package artwork and history are discussed extensively in the book. It is also mentioned that a pack of Camels is the best friend you have in prison.

The cover of the album Mirage by the band Camel resembles the cigarette packaging.

A pack of Camel Filters appears amongst other paraphernalia on the cover of Brian Eno's first solo album Here Come the Warm Jets.

A stylized drawing of the Camel cigarette pack is used as the front cover of the 1971 album Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime by the San Francisco psychedelic band It's a Beautiful Day.


Camel was or still is sold in the following countries:[15][16][17]


Algeria, Egypt, Mauritius, South Africa, Tunisia


Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Israel, Syria, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Maldives, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan


Croatia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, San Marino, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Yugoslavia (then Slovenia, Serbia, and Macedonia individually), Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia

North America[edit]

Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Mexico, United States

South America[edit]

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Erickson, Amanda; Erickson, Amanda (2013-05-23). "In North Carolina, a tale of two cities in one". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-02-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Burrough, Bryan (2003). Barbarians at the Gate. HarperCollins. pp. 40, 46. 
  3. ^ [Hilliard, Robert L. & Keith, Michael C. (2005). The broadcast century and beyond. Elsevier. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-240-80570-2.  Murrow smoked up to four packs per before dying of lung cancer]
  4. ^ Craver, Richard (2012-09-26). "Reynolds to offer more menthol versions of Pall Mall cigarettes". Winston-Salem Journal. 
  5. ^ Proctor, Robert (2013-10-20). "Camels: 100 years and still killing." Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Stanford Research in the Impact of Tobacco Advertising". Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  7. ^ "Rewind: 1949 Cigarette Spot Declares 'Doctors Smoke Camels'". Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  8. ^ "Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising". Stanford School of Medicine. 
  9. ^ Fischer PM, Schwartz MP, Richards JW Jr, Goldstein AO, Rojas TH (1991-12-11). "Brand logo recognition by children aged 3 to 6 years". JAMA. 266 (22): 3145–8. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470220061027. PMID 1956101. Retrieved March 6, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Reynolds will pay $10 million in Joe Camel lawsuit". USA Today. 1997-09-12. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  12. ^ Craver, Richard (2010-11-15). "Camel promotion under fire". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  13. ^ Wilson, Duff (2010-11-12). "Group Says Camel Packs Lure the Young". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  14. ^ a b Felberbaum, Michael (2010-12-01). "State AGs ask RJ Reynolds to stop Camel cigarette 'Break Free Adventure' marketing campaign". Star-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ [3]

External links[edit]