In Thunderball, after James Bond has taken the “nature cure” he has also adjusted his smoking habits. But there was one brand that just didn’t work out for him.

The Dukes tasted of almost nothing, but they were at least better than Vanguards, the new ‘tobaccoless’ from America that despite its health-protecting qualities, filled the room with a faint ‘burning leaves’ smell that made visitors to his office inquire whether ‘something was on fire somewhere.’

The Vanguard was a real product, introduced during the early stages of the creation of Thunderball. The cigarette was actually very controversial, as “big tobacco” viewed it as a threat and did all it could to suppress the introduction of it.

From the Tobacco Timeline:

1959-Fall: The “Vanguard Issue.” Vanguard was a tobaccoless smoke introduced in the Fall of 1959. The product’s creator, Bantop Products Corporation of Bay Shore, Long Island, immediately ran into problems advertising it. Bantop claimed the tobacco industry conspired to prevent its “Now Smoke Without Fear” ads. In the New York metropolitan area, for example, only one newspaper would accept the ads. (ASG)

Here is a look at the Vanguard and the claims it was making:

Click to access vanguard.pdf

During the 1950’s, tobacco advertising was omnipresent, and made big dollars for Madison Avenue. As various studies were made and questions raised about the health effects of smoking, the industry fought back with various insidious tactics of its own, from doing their own “studies” and carefully finding ways around regulations that were put into place as far as the claims that could be made in cigarette advertising.

When Vanguard was announced, the maker of the product found that it could not get advertisements for the cigarette published. They charged that big tobacco was exerting pressure on outlets to not carry the ads for Vanguard.

This was the subject of an article in the October 2, 1959 issue of Advertising Week

Click to access advertising-week-vanguard-1959.pdf

It’s an interesting history for a product that never really made the big time, but is forever immortalized in an Ian Fleming James Bond novel.

There have been other cigarettes named Vanguard, both tobacco and electronic, but the above brand is the one Fleming was referencing in the book.

One thought on “Vanguard Tobaccoless Cigarette

  1. I bought a pack of Vanguard when I was in my third year of high school in NYC. They tasted so awful that I saved them in my top shirt pocket for anyone who bummed a cigarette from me. Eventually, after several days, they were all gone. I graduated in 1961, so I’m certain we’re talking about the same product.

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