“Viceroy” were the first ever cork tipped filter cigarettes


“Viceroy”, the low-cost, readily available cigarette brand is owned by British American Tobacco. Although not a premium pack, Viceroys are very popular throughout the world.

The cigarette brand targets the masses who like to smoke on a budget, but still, want to smoke cigarettes that mimic premium brands. At nearly half the cost of the more “privileged” brands, the $9 standard price still stands strong.

Philip Morris (1835–1873), British tobacconist and cigarette importer whose name was later used for Philip Morris Inc. Ltd. established in 1902.

Made by Brown & Williamson (B&W), the very same tobacco giant which was bought by British American Tobacco in 1927, the first production and marketing of Viceroys was in 1936. Unbeknownst to most, it is the first ever cigarette to use a unique cork tip filter.

In 1952, Viceroy had the honors of adding the very first cellulose acetate filter, setting a new standard for the tobacco industry. Viceroy Filter Kings were introduced in 1953, and other products kept coming, like Box Kings and Lights Box Kings in 1990, and 1992, Ultra Lights Kings and Ultra Lights 100’s.

A Viceroy advertisement from 1957.

There have been many public controversies concerning the nicotine levels of cigarettes and genetically modified tobacco plants used in their manufacture. The tobacco plants were modified to increase the levels of nicotine in the leaves.

One shocking fact is that, in the 1970s, an insane B&W marketing test experimented on Viceroy to see if children could be encouraged to start smoking. The Federal Trade Commission found out about this unbelievable ad campaign during a closed investigation on their advertising methods.

A package of Viceroy cigarettes. The text warning in Romanian reads “Smoking seriously harms you and those around you.” Photo Credit

Shortly after that, the child smokers ad was immediately pulled and canceled. There was further controversy when in 1995 the former B&W vice president and chemical researcher Jeffrey Wigand defected from the company.

Wigand revealed the company’s secrets, saying that they had been adding unreported chemicals to the cigarettes. The Kool, Capri, and Viceroy cigarettes had increased nicotine levels to promote higher addiction factors, therefore promoting sales.

Jeffrey Wigand, the defector of the B&W company, speaking at an ethics conference at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Photo Credit

Viceroys were originally manufactured by B&W, but it was decided to merge with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as a joint venture. This resulted in new business opportunities, more sales, and a wider customer base.

The companies’ decision proved extremely successful and profitable, selling Viceroy cigarettes all over the world and promoting the Viceroy smoking standard; it can be said that the Viceroy created a sort of smoking culture of its own.

James Buchanan Duke (December 23, 1856 – October 10, 1925). U.S. tobacco mogul and electric power industrialist who modernized cigarette manufacture and marketing.

To this day, Viceroys are commonly sold in many international markets and there remains a strong demand for it. In Russia, Turkey, Chile, the Czech Republic, and the Middle East, Viceroy remains an in-demand brand. The Red and Blue versions of Viceroys are also sold as a budget brand in Canada.

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Speaking of Canadians, singer and guitarist Mac DeMarco recorded a song about the brand, entitled “Ode to Viceroy”. In the last part of the song, a man can be heard lighting a cigarette, smoking, and coughing, and the song is really an anti-smoking message.

Although Viceroy Cigarettes are probably the world’s most generic cigarette, its quality is highly regarded for the price. Despite the cost of cigarettes going through the roof, Viceroys remain a standard around the globe.