When did we forget the art of cultivated smoking and drinking?

Smoking can be deadly, and excessive alcohol consumption, too. But what is the alternative — to be bored to death with a quinoa shake in your hand? A new book takes a wistful look back at the era when smoking and neat drinking was considered an art form…

Do you remember the times when you were smoked like a Black Forest ham on intercontinental flights and you had to squint through nicotine-blue mist to follow a film in the cinema? It was a golden age of idleness, when office furniture was integrated with refrigerators and business lunches often morphed into dinners. Watch a talk show from the 1970s on YouTube and the moustachioed gentlemen — never without a cigarette in hand — in their brown corduroys simply don’t compare to the cabbage soup and bonito flake complexion of Gwyneth Paltrow. In fact, they’re more self-determined, fun loving, and free than all the beauty influencers on Instagram put together.

Taschen has now published an illustrated book that compiles the most beautiful and bizarre alcohol and tobacco advertisements from the 20th century. And even if the oft-incorrect, discriminating, and addictive motives are downright naïve from today’s point of view, the images remind us how much the world has changed in recent decades. 

Photos: Taschen

Jim Heiman’s illustrated book 20th Century Alcohol and Tobacco Ads is available to buy in Taschen’s online shop.