Originally introduced in 1954 by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Winston quickly became one of the top selling cigarette brands and owing to the slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should," it became the number one cigarette sold in the world by 1966, a position it held until 1972. Winston then became the #2 cigarette, a position it continues to maintain today under ownership of Japan Tobacco outside of the U.S. while the American version of the brand has faced steadily declining sales, dropping to sixth place by 2005 in the last national survey. The American version of Winston is also known for its more recent claim of becoming additive free in the late 1990s. This in turn led to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission requiring Winston to clarify subsequent advertisements that the lack of additives did not result in a safer cigarette. In 1999 R.J. Reynolds was spun off from RJR Nabisco and subsequently sold its non-U.S. operations to Japan Tobacco. On July 15, 2014, Reynolds American (R.J. Reynolds parent company) agreed to purchase the Lorillard Tobacco Company for $27.4 billion and as a result, (to alleviate antitrust concerns) Winston, along with the KOOL, Maverick, and Salem cigarette brands was sold to Imperial Tobacco Group for $7.1 billion. On June 12, 2015, Reynolds American and Lorillard completed their merger and Winston officially fell under ownership of Imperial tobacco spinoff ITG brands.
Beginning in 1972, Winston was the sponsor of the highest title of the NASCAR series, known as the Winston Cup Series. R.J. Reynolds ended Winston's association with the series in 2003. The series is now known as the Sprint Cup Series. From 1975 to 2001, Winston was also the sponsor of the NHRA drag racing series, which is currently sponsored by Coca Cola's Mello Yello.
Winston was one of the original sponsors of The Flintstones from 1960 to 1961. In the commercials, Flintstones characters Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were seen promoting Winston. By the third season, however, the show's ads became more children oriented and Winston was replaced by Welch's.
David Goerlitz, Winston's leading male model during the 1980s, became an outspoken anti smoking advocate in 1988, after suffering health issues related to smoking.
Varieties in the U.S.A
As of 2015, Winstons sold by Reynolds American were only available in a box with an optional pull tab simulating the opening of a soft pack. Currently sold varieties available in the U.S.A
- Winston Red (Full Flavor) - Kings, 100's
- Winston Gold (Lights) - Kings, 100's
- Winston White (Ultra Lights) - Kings, 100's
- Cigarette Brand Preferences in 2005: Cigarette market value ranking, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, January 12,2007 , updated July 11,2008.
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