Book Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Branding and Design in Cigarette Packaging

Pack it up, quit now and buy the book instead

Graphic designers will love this book with its colorful comprehensive overview of cigarette containers from around the world. There must be several hundred packs shown (and beautifully printed with each pack having a drop shadow so they look like they're floating on the page) and the authors have managed to arrange them into meaningful chapters. The chapter dealing with 'Patriotism by the Pack' has some great designs, the Tobacco Alternatives Company issued Glory brand (1996) with a flamboyant use of the Stars and Stripes, the White House produced an elegant pack in the Eighties, a flip-top box in cream with just the President's seal on the front.

Now that smoking has lost its cache the last chapter 'The Anti-Packs' has some really offbeat stuff, Trim brand from the Cornell Drug Company in 1960 suggested on its front that it 'curbs your appetite', aimed at the ladies, naturally. Pure brand in 1995 would have you believe that because their product contained no additives you could puff away in good health. I'm not convinced that all the weird brands shown here were serious attempts at creating mass sales though.

Thibodeau and Martin have written a fascinating study about pack art (and the packs are the dominant items in the book) and though there are other books on the subject the only one that might be comparable is Chris Mullen's 'Cigarette Pack Art' which came out in 1980. Written from a European perspective it perhaps has more historical pack material shown and a lot more text.

Oh yes, the book jacket points out that neither of the authors smoke!

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Branding and Design in Cigarette Packaging is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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Typical spread.

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