Kent (cigarette)

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An old pack of Kent Ultras from South Africa.
Product type Cigarette
Produced by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Introduced 1952; 65 years ago (1952)
Previous owners Lorillard Tobacco Company

Kent is a brand of cigarettes owned by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.


Widely recognized by many as the first popular filtered cigarette, Kent was introduced by the Lorillard Tobacco Company in 1952 around the same time a series of articles entitled "cancer by the carton", published by Reader's Digest, scared American consumers into seeking out a filter brand at a time when most brands were filterless. (Viceroy cigarettes had been the first to introduce filters, in 1936.) Kent widely touted its "famous micronite filter" and promised consumers the "Greatest health protection in history." Sales of Kent skyrocketed, and it has been estimated that in the first four years that Kent was on the market, Lorillard sold some 13 billion Kent cigarettes. From March 1952 until at least May 1956, however, the Micronite filter in Kent cigarettes contained carcinogenic blue asbestos,[1] it has been suspected that many cases of mesothelioma have been caused specifically by smoking the original Kent cigarettes. Lorillard quietly changed the filter material from asbestos to the more common cellulose acetate in mid 1956.[1] Kent continued to grow until the late 1960s, then began a long, steady decline as more filtered cigarette brands promising even lower tar (and appealing to smokers' desires for a "safer" smoke) were introduced.

However, Kent continued to stay in the top ten cigarette brand list until 1979;[2] in 1977, Lorillard sold the overseas rights of Kent and all of its other brands[3] and today Kents manufactured outside the U.S. are property of British American Tobacco. On June 15, 2014 Reynolds American offered to buy the Lorillard tobacco company for $27.4 billion[4] and effective June 12, 2015 the Kent brand became the property of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Additional notes[edit]

The brand is named after Herbert Kent, a former executive at Lorillard Tobacco Company.

1950s U.S. television advertisement

Between 1970 and 1990 Kent was the most demanded cigarette in Romania and in some parts of the domestic market used as payment or bribe; in the latter part of the interval, Kent was no longer available in regular retail, being sold officially only in hard currency shops. Obviously, the black market was thriving at the time, as most Kents being smuggled in by those relatively few Romanians who were allowed to travel abroad (sea&air crew, diplomatic staff, etc.)[5][6]

Varieties available in the U.S.[edit]

Currently, Kents sold in the U.S. are only available in soft packs.

  • Kent Classic - Kings and 100s (Full Flavor)
  • Kent Golden - Kings and 100s (Lights)
  • Kent III - Kings and 100s (Ultra Lights)


External links[edit]