Product typeCigarette
OwnerITG Brands (U.S. only)
Japan Tobacco (Outside the U.S.)
CountryUnited States
Introduced1954; 70 years ago (1954)
Previous ownersR.J. Reynolds
Tagline"Sprit of the U.S.A." (Philippines, 1997-2002)
Carcinogenicity: IARC group 1

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.[1][2] The brand is named after the town where R. J. Reynolds started his business which is Winston-Salem, North Carolina.[2] As of 2017, Winston has the seventh-highest U.S. market share (2 percent) of all cigarette brands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maxwell Report.[3][4]

This market share has been falling since 2003, when it peaked at 3.92 percent,[5] although Winston has consistently been in the top 10 cigarette brands by U.S. market share since 2001, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.[5][6]


Winston was introduced in 1954 by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and quickly became one of the top-selling cigarette brands, using the slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should".[7] It became the number one cigarette sold in the world by 1966, a position it held until 1972 when Marlboro overtook the brand.[8]

In the 1980s, Winston was the most favored brand in Puerto Rico, thanks to their advertising slogan "Winston y Puerto Rico: No hay nada mejor" (Winston and Puerto Rico: There is nothing better).

Winston then became the #2 cigarette, a position it continues to maintain today under ownership of Japan Tobacco outside of the U.S.[2][9] while the American version of the brand has faced steadily declining sales, dropping to sixth place by 2005 in the last national survey.[10] The American version of Winston is also known for its more recent claim of becoming additive-free in the late 1990s.[11] 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.[12]

In 1999, R.J. Reynolds was spun off from RJR Nabisco and subsequently sold its non-U.S. operations to Japan Tobacco.[13]

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.[14][15]

On June 12, 2015, Reynolds American and Lorillard completed their merger and Winston officially fell under ownership of Imperial tobacco spinoff ITG brands.[16]



Beginning in 1971, Winston was the sponsor of the highest title of the NASCAR series, known as the Winston Cup Series.[17][18] R. J. Reynolds ended Winston's association with the series in 2003.[19] The series is now known as the NASCAR Cup Series.

Drag Racing

From 1975 to 2001, Winston was also the sponsor of the NHRA drag racing series, which is currently sponsored by Camping World.[20][21]

Superbike World Championship

Winston sponsored the Ten Kate Racing team in 2005 and 2006. In countries where tobacco advertising was prohibited, the acronym "WinWin" was used instead.[22][23][24][25]


Winston was a sponsor of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.[26][27]


Winston sponsored Dennis Connor's 1993/94 Whitbread 60 in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. Connors sailed 2 legs of the race with Winston finishing 6th overall & 4th in the Whitbread 60 class


Winston and The Flintstones

Winston was one of the original sponsors of The Flintstones, from 1960 to 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 oriented towards children and Winston was replaced by Welch's.[28][29][30]

Winston and targeting of African Americans

In the 1970s, Winston specifically targeted the Afro-American minority, similar to what Kool and Newport did during the time.

After World War II had ended, American tobacco companies started to explore new markets to maintain their 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 at and featuring African Americans away from the eyes of white consumers.[31]

David Goerlitz and the Winston Man

Between 1982 and 1988, David Goerlitz was the "Winston Man", appearing in 42 billboard advertisements – more than the Marlboro man.[32] 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 more than 20 years working in schools as a public speaker, encouraging kids not to start smoking.[33][34][35][36][37][38]

Winston and additive-free claims

In September 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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.[39]

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" ("No Bull" ad campaign) claims on product packaging.[39] 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.[39] Winston had been previously settled with the FTC (when tobacco advertising was under their purview) regarding similar claims in 1999.[12]

Winston Cup Museum lawsuit

After Winston relinquished their sponsorship of the NASCAR Cup Series in 2004, a museum honoring the Winston Cup era opened in 2005, operated independently of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company or NASCAR themselves (but otherwise using the Winston branding as last used in 2003). Following a four-year legal battle against ITG Brands, which argued that the sale of Winston brand from R.J. Reynolds in 2015 meant that the history of the Winston Cup Series belonged to them, the museum closed in July 2023 as part of an injunction[40] before permanently closing on December 18, 2023, following a brief reopening in September.[41]


A Winston sponsored smoking room at Dubai International Airport.

Winston cigarettes were or still are sold in the following countries: Iran, Canada, United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Iceland, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tunesia, South Africa, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Kosovo, Morocco, Myanmar, Vietnam, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Norway, Cyprus, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, North Macedonia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, and Ethiopia.[42][43][44][45]

See also


  1. ^ "Brands". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Our brands". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  3. ^ Maxwell, John C (July 26, 2018). "Year End & Fourth Quarter 2017 Cigarette Industry". The Maxwell Report. Richmond, VA.
  4. ^ "Tobacco Brand Preferences". CDC Office on Smoking and Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 1, 2018. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Sharma, Anushree; Fix, Brian V.; Delnevo, Cristine; Cummings, K. Michael; O'Connor, Richard J. (2016-01-01). "Trends in market share of leading cigarette brands in the USA: national survey on drug use and health 2002–2013". BMJ Open. 6 (1): –008813. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008813. ISSN 2044-6055. PMC 4735173. PMID 26826144.
  6. ^ Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (July 11, 2003). The NHSDA Report: Cigarette Brand Preferences (PDF) (Report). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  7. ^ Cross, Mary (2002). A Century of American Icons: 100 Products and Slogans from the 20th-Century Consumer Culture. Greenwood Press. pp. 128–130. ISBN 978-0313314810. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Reynolds Plans a New Version of Winston". The New York Times. 14 March 1992.
  9. ^ "JT aiming to make Winston No.1 through accretion". 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  10. ^ Cigarette Brand Preferences in 2005: Cigarette market value ranking Archived 2013-03-02 at the Wayback Machine, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, January 12, 2007, updated July 11, 2008.
  11. ^ "Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b Streitfeld, Victoria; Grossman, Beth (March 3, 1999). "FTC Accepts Settlement of Charges That Ads For Winston "No Additive" Cigarettes Are Deceptive" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  13. ^ Martin, Mitchell; Tribune, International Herald (10 March 1999). "International Cigarettes Unit Sold to Japan Tobacco for $8 Billion : RJR Nabisco to Split Up Company". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Lorillard and Reynolds American near merger". CNBC. Reuters. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Reynolds, Lorillard Must Sell Salem, Kool, Maverick & Winston Brands To Gain Approval Of $27.4B Mega-Cigarette Merger". 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  16. ^ "It's official: $27.4B Reynolds-Lorillard merger complete". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Winston Cup Museum & Special Event Center". Winston Cup Museum & Special Event Center.
  18. ^ Bartlett, Roger; Gratton, Chris; Rolf, Christer (26 January 2018). Encyclopedia of International Sports Studies: F-O. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780415978767 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Reynolds American)". 15 September 2003. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  20. ^ "1999 Winston Showdown". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  21. ^ " 1997 - Express Litho - NHRA Winston Drag Racing - Winston Select Top 10 - Saluting 1997 Champions - Gary Scelzi : Top Fuel / John Force : Funny Car / Jim Yates : Pro Stock - Illustrations Hector Cademartori - 22x28 Inch Rolled Poster - Very Rare - Out of Print - Collectible: Posters & Prints".
  22. ^ "2005 World Superbike - Full-Time Riders - Entry List - WSB Archives". World Superbike Unofficial Archive. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  23. ^ "2006 World Superbike - Full-Time Riders - Entry List - WSB Archives". World Superbike Unofficial Archive. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Karl Muggeridge". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  25. ^ "31-K.Muggeridge-Honda CBR 1000 RR-Winston Ten Kate Honda at Magny-Cours". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  26. ^ "The Official FIFA World Cup™ Partners & Sponsors since 1982" (PDF). FIFA. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 7, 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  27. ^ "Soccer - FIFA World Cup Final 1982 - Italy v West Germany - Santiago Bernabeu Stadium". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Winston Cigarettes with the Flintstones". 25 June 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  29. ^ "Yabba Dabba Cough! Flashback to When The Flintstones Shilled Cigarettes". 2 April 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  30. ^ "Excellence in Advertising: Winston cigarettes". Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. 8 August 2015.
  31. ^ "'Good... and long': Blaxploitation ads for Winston cigarettes, 1970-1973". 5 November 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  32. ^ "In America; Tobacco Dollars". The New York Times. 28 November 1993.
  33. ^ "The Goerlitz tapes". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  34. ^ "Ex-cigarette spokesman pitches smoke-free lifestyle to students". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  35. ^ "EX-WINSTON MODEL TO SPEAK AT NIAGARA MIDDLE FRIDAY". 11 November 1998. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  36. ^ "If you think Big Tobacco was bad, wait till you get a whiff of Big Marijuana". 11 September 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  37. ^ "Winston man - Boston TV News Digital Library". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  38. ^ "Winston Man' opposes smoking". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  39. ^ a b c Abrams, Rachel. (August 27, 2015). "F.D.A. Warns 3 Tobacco Makers About Language Used on Labels". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  40. ^ Melrose, Justyn (July 4, 2023). "Winston Cup Museum in NC closes over legal battle with ITG tobacco company". CBS 17 Raleigh. Retrieved December 25, 2023.
  41. ^ McCoy, Sydney (December 15, 2023). "Museum honoring the golden era of racing closes". Spectrum News 1 North Carolina. Retrieved December 25, 2023.
  42. ^ "BrandWinston - Cigarettes Pedia". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  43. ^ "Winston". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  44. ^ "Brands". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  45. ^ "Where we operate". Japan Tobacco International – a global tobacco company. Retrieved 2020-03-28.