A Marlboro ashtray and a pack of German Winston Red cigarettes
|Owner||ITG Brands, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco (U.S. only), Japan Tobacco (Outside of the U.S.)|
|Previous owners||R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company|
Winston is an American brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by ITG Brands, subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco in the United States and by Japan Tobacco outside the U.S. The brand is named after the hometown of R. J. Reynolds which is Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Winston was introduced in 1954 by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and quickly became one of the top selling cigarette brands thanks 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 when Marlboro overtook the brand.
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.
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 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 1971, 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 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
In 1960, Winston was one of the original sponsors of The Flintstones up until 1962. In the commercials, Flintstones characters Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were seen promoting Winston, and every episode ended with Fred lighting a Winston for his wife Wilma while singing the product's jingle. By the third season, however, the show's ads became more children oriented and Winston was replaced by Welch's.
After World War II had ended, American tobacco companies started to explore new markets to maintain their not insubstantial prosperity. The growth in urban migration and the growing incomes of African Americans (called at the time the "emerging Negro market") gave the tobacco companies what was sometimes called an "export market at home". Additionally, a new kind of media started to appear after the war when several glossy monthly magazines including Negro Digest (1942, renamed Black World), Ebony (1945) and Negro Achievements (1947, renamed Sepia) began to be published. These relatively expensively produced magazines were far more attractive to the tobacco advertisers than the cheap 'negro' daily newspapers of the pre-war era, with glossy pages and a far wider national distribution. The magazines meant for a purely African American audience also meant that advertisers could produce adverts aimed and featuring African Americans away from the eyes of white consumers.
Between 1982 and 1988, David Goerlitz was the "Winston Man", appearing in 42 billboard advertisements - more than the Marlboro man. In 1988, he publicly denounced the tobacco industry and joined the emerging anti-smoking movement after suffering health issues related to smoking. He has spent the last 21 years working in schools as a public speaker, encouraging kids not to start smoking.
In September 2015, The Food and Drug Administration warned ITG Brands, the makers of Winston cigarettes, that labeling the product as "additive-free" violated federal law because the claim implied that the cigarettes were safer than other brands.
The August warning letter to ITG marked the first time the FDA had used its authority under a 2009 tobacco-control law to take action against a company for making "additive-free" claims on product packaging. It was one of three warning letters that the agency shipped out in August 2015 to cigarette companies whose products were labeled "additive-free", "natural" or both. "The FDA's job is to ensure tobacco products are not marketed in a way that leads consumers to believe cigarettes with descriptors like 'additive-free' and 'natural' pose fewer health risks than other cigarettes, unless the claims have been scientifically supported." said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "This action is a milestone, and a reminder of how we use the tools of science-based regulation to protect the U.S. public from the harmful effects of tobacco use."
The FDA's letter to ITG also noted how the advertising of Winston cigarettes must adhere to the provisions of a consent order from another federal agency, the FTC, that requires some ads include the disclaimer: "No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean safer".
Winston cigarettes were or still are sold in the following countries: Canada, United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Argentina, United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Serbia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tunesia, South Africa, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.
As of 2017, all varieties of Winston sold by ITG brands are only available in a box.