False Advertising and “Puffing”

False advertising exists on product packaging, and any other form of advertising where the seller makes claims that “do not simply magnify in opinion the advantages the product has but invents advantages and falsely asserts their existence.” It is at that point that the seller “transcends the limits of ‘puffing’ and engages in false representations and pretenses.” United States v. New South Farm, 241 U.S. 64, 74 (1916).  The 1942 Camel cigarette advertisement below is an example of an ad that does not employ false advertising.  Every statement in the ad is either factually accurate, or mere “puffing.”

The Lucky Strike cigarette advertisement below is an example of a celebrity endorsement:

“Years ago, as an ambitious young actor, I was impressed how well my throat liked Luckies and how well they suited my idea of a perfect cigarette. That impression still stands. In my recent tour of ‘Hamlet’, with its many performances each week and the attendant tax on my throat, I have been convinced anew that this light smoke is both delightful to my taste and the ‘top’ cigarette for an actor’s throat.”

– Leslie Howard
Lucky Strike

This 1937 American Tobacco Company ad goes on with a persuasive argument for choosing Lucky Strikes: “Notice how many professional men and women- lawyers, doctors, statesmen, etc., smoke Luckies. See how many leading artists of radio, stage, screen, and opera, prefer them. Naturally the voices of these artists are all-important to them. That’s why they want a light smoke. You can have this throat protection too. The protection of a light smoke free of certain harsh irritants expelled by the exclusive “Toasting” process.”

False or misleading statements/phrases in this ad:

  • “throat protection”
  • “smoke free of certain harsh irritants expelled,” by a “Toasting”[sic] process.”

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