HAIL TO THE CHIEF
1961---1988

Once upon a time it was considered good manners for a host to offer his guests a smoke. This custom extended to the President of the United States. Each President, from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, gave his guests a very special pack of cigarettes. The earliest versions were nothing more than a standard pack with a presidential seal insert card placed under the cellophane, and each of the major manufacturers provided these to the government. It's not unusual to find Camel, Lark, Pall Mall, Viceroy or other popular brands with one of these presidential seal inserts, as many were kept as souvenirs. The early insert cards pictured a plain black and gold seal, while those from the 1970s and 80s were a more elaborate blue. Below the seal the different cards stated: Welcome to Camp David, Welcome Aboard Marine One or Air Force One, Welcome Aboard the Sequoia, Welcome to the Staff Mess, etc. etc. In the examples I have pictured below is a 1974 white plastic pack (front and back) that was a memento from 'The Spirit of 76', President Nixon's name for Air Force One. Guests invited onboard Air Force One found information cards on each seat, and a book of Air Force One matches in each ashtray. Smokers could then ask a staff member or steward for a pack of presidential seal cigarettes. Two versions of the 1969 gold packs with the embossed seals were made by Philip Morris. These unique plastic packs were either given away onboard Air Force One or at the White House.
1974 pack back of 1974 pack 1969 pack 1969 pack
The Maryland Cigarette was a product of The American Tobacco Company, and the pack pictured is circa 1970. A Sikorsky Sea King helicopter uses the call sign Marine One when the president is aboard. Before 1976, the US Army also shared this responsibility, so it's not too uncommon to find a pack of cigarettes with an Army One insert card. The Philip Morris presidential seal flip-top box pictured below second from left, had an embossed seal printed in at least seven colors. This pack is from President Reagan's first term of office. The Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company provided a beautiful king size slip case (second from right) for their brands of cigarettes. During the 1960s the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company supplied President Kennedy with L&M Cigarettes that had an insert card printed with a small gold presidential seal. L&M was the favorite brand of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, however, she saw these packs as a form of advertising and believed that they cheapened the presidency. Never the less, the First Lady smoked these special L&Ms, and two of her authenticated empty packs were auctioned off last year selling for about two hundred dollars each. These small gifts from the Commander-in-Chief were discontinued May 1988. By the way, John Kennedy liked to smoke Petit Upmann Cuban cigars. The evening before signing into law an import ban against all Cuban products, the President asked his Press Secretary for help: "I need a lot of cigars."
ca. 1970 100mm Reagan Presidential box slip case Satin Cigarettes


CAUTION: It would be easy for the unscrupulous to create fake presidential packs. JFK collectors, cigarette packs from this four year period won't have: a health warning; a blue federal excise tax stamp; a zip code as part of the manufacturer's address; and probably won't have a state tax stamp on the bottom of the tight cellophane (not modern plastic) outer wrap.


Home | Slide & Shells | Boxes & Tins
1880's Trade Cards | A Pretty Face | 20 Turks Magazine Ads
Cigarette Packs | International Smokes | Favorite Tailor Mades
Nicotiana Recomendi

*NOTE* All images and content are copyright by James A. Shaw. Reproduction of any kind is strictly prohibited without prior express written consent...