The Art of Cigarette Design

By The Drum, Administrator

February 24, 2005 | 2 min read

The idea that we should produce a little book each year was based, as are many of the best ideas, on a very long lunch. It seemed to us that as our world became evermore commercially driven, we risked losing the notion of communicating simply for the pure pleasure of sharing something that had caught our interest. Our brief, therefore, was pleasingly open: it had to be small (precious), raise a smile (belly laugh, smirk or rueful grin) and must be produced in time to mail out to friends and colleagues before Christmas (though admittedly it’s often a close-run thing...).

This year, it was my turn to take advantage of what has become known as the ‘directors’ perk’, and I became fixed on the idea of reproducing a charming little history of the development of the Canadian Bark Canoe, an old copy of which I’d found on holiday.

That was, of course, until the announcement of legislative change on smoking in public places. This prompted me to look out a bundle of cigarette packs which my father had passed on to me as design ‘curios’ some years ago. A little research unearthed a mass of data, particularly in the murky world of tobacco company advertising. But digging a little further, it became clear that the development of cigarette pack design mimicked almost exactly the history of graphic design as a discipline. And so a dying art was born...

Richard Irvine, Managing Director,


The images in the slim volume have been gathered from personal collections, friends and, inevitably, the extraordinary resource that is the World Wide Web.


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