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Salem is brand of cigarettes introduced in 1956 by the RJR as the first filter-tipped menthol cigarette. Its name (along with that of the Winston brand) derives from Winston-Salemmarker, North Carolinamarker, the city where RJR was founded and headquartered.

Salem History

Not long after introduction of the product it became the target of a spoof in MAD Magazine, with the well-known phrase, "Sailem [sic] don't inhalem."

In the late 1960s, the brand's slogan (sung to music in television and radio commercial prior to their prohibition on January 1, 1971) was "You can take Salem out of the country, can't take the country out of Salem." Later, the slogan "Springtime... it happens every Salem" was used. In the 1970s RJR began marketing their cigarettes by linking the refreshing taste of menthol to outdoor scenes portraying water and pure nature.

For decades Salem was one of the best-selling cigarette brands in the US, though in recent years it has been surpassed by other menthol brands such as Newport and Kool.

There are now two main varieties of Salem: Green Label and Black Label. The Green Label is marketed as being more smooth-tasting, while the Black Label is said to be stronger or "harsher" tasting.

The packaging for Salem was significantly revised in the late 1990s, with the addition of Black Labels which had sliding packs, and the inclusion of a single cigarette with a dark green filter, appropriately called "The Lucky" after the tradition of flipping the first cigarette in the box upside down and smoking it last. Popular legend says that smoking "The Lucky" out of order often results in a horrible death, often within just minutes of finishing it.

In Japan, a "clean cigarette" was introduced in August 1995 by R.J. Reynolds and branded as Salem Pianissimo, which was designed to reduce the odor of the cigarette, and generate a pleasant smell and taste in a society which holds cleanliness as a high attribute. When the product was introduced in America, it was critically panned and the project was scrapped, for many felt the "smokeless" tobacco tasted horrible.

When cigarette advertising on TV was banned in the United States, the comedy show Laugh-In spoofed how manufacturers might get their message across subliminally: "Let's take a coupla boats up to Newport and Salem."


Until the early 2000s, Salem was a sponsor of the Hong Kong Open, an ATP tennis tournament, which attracted a number of top ranking professional players. As a result of the sponsorship, it was titled the Salem Open. Salem also sponsored a number of events there including concerts throughout Asia.

In 2001, as with legislation restricting tobacco sponsorship in Hong Kongmarker, the tournament sponsorship was proven to be controversial, when its official logo was altered to include the logo of Perrier, causing anti-smoking campaigners to claim that the organisers exploited a loophole in its sponsorship clause.

Salem has also introduced new light and ultralight variety cigarettes.


  • "Above it All"/"The Bright Mild Salem" (Salem cigarette jingle) (1986-1989, 1991-1995), radio commercial only



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