|Country||England, United Kingdom|
|Markets||United Kingdom, Ireland|
|Previous owners||W.D. & H.O. Wills|
Woodbine was launched in 1888 by W.D. & H.O. Wills. Noted for its strong unfiltered cigarettes, the brand was cheap and popular in the early 20th century with the working-class, as well as with army men during the First and Second World War. In the Great War, the British Army chaplain Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy MC was affectionately nicknamed "Woodbine Willie" by troops on the Western Front to whom he handed out cigarettes along with Bibles and spiritual comfort. In the 1890s, Woodbine cigarettes were offered at a margin of 19%, with a possible maximum discount of 10%. In the United Kingdom, the brand was sold at very low advertising costs and total expenditure on sales promotion for all cigarettes and tobacco brands in 1925 was only 2d per pound of tobacco sold.
The intricate nineteenth century packet design remained current until the mid 1960s. Although Wills changed the packaging, Woodbine sales continued to drop.
A filtered version was launched in the United Kingdom in 1948, but was discontinued in 1988. Woodbines came in four different packs: 5 cigarettes, 10 cigarettes, 20 cigarettes and 50 cigarettes.
They were often known as "Woodies".
In the 1960s, a few television ads were made in which Gordon Rollings played a man who did various things (such as waiting for the bus or setting up a beach chair) which would always end in misery. He then would grab a packet of Woodbines from his pocket and light one up, followed by a happy tune and a man reading the line "Light up life with a Woodbine! It's Britain's best-selling cigarette!". at the end.
The ads were never played on TV however, as all television commercials for cigarettes were banned on 1 August 1965. A jingle was also made to promote Woodbine in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
In popular cultureEdit
- Woodbines were the oft-mentioned cigarette of choice for Tristan Farnon (Brian Sinclair), the younger of the two veterinary brothers in James Herriot's semi-autobiographical All Creatures Great and Small series.
- Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of Prince Philip and mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, smoked Woodbines. Prince Philip's biographer Gyles Brandreth wrote of Princess Alice during her time at Buckingham Palace, "They say you could always tell when she was coming along the corridor because of the whiff of Woodbines in the air. The idea of the Duke of Edinburgh’s mum, dressed as a nun, sucking on her Woodbine… it’s wonderful!" 
- Legendary North East England comedian Bobby Thompson always smoked Woodbines on stage and also mentioned them frequently in his act.
- John Lennon was originally fond of smoking Woodbines while he was a student and into the early 60s, before switching to smoking the French-made Gauloises Bleues. After switching, Lennon mocked the use of Woodbines during a documentary film that chronicled The Beatles' first visit to America.
- Jennifer Paterson, celebrity chef of the "Two Fat Ladies", was known to smoke Woodbines and is seen doing so in several episodes of the show.
- Van Morrison, a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, mentions buying Woodbines in the song "Cleaning Windows" ("Bought five Woodbines at the shop on the corner // And went straight back to work") as a pictorial description of the main character of the song, who is a simple working man.
- Flogging Molly, an Irish-American Celtic punk band, mentions smoking Woodbines in their song "Factory Girls". The song is about an old woman, and has the line, "Choking on Woodbine // cigarettes just kill time."
- In the Adrian Mole series of novels and related TV series, old aged pensioner character Bert Baxter had often smoked Woodbines as depicted.
- In the 1992 film Howards End, Leonard Bast (Samuel West) references the brand while telling the Schlegel sisters (Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter) about his all-night walk through the forest. He describes how tired and hungry he was by dawn: “I didn't know when you're walking, you want breakfast, lunch and tea during the night as well. And all I had was a packet of Woodbines." His working-class position and accent indicate the brand may be a cheap favourite.
Some late 19th to early 20th century steamships sported as many as five long and thin smokestacks (sometimes including a dummy one), notably the Russian cruiser Askold, earning them the nickname "packet of woodbines" among sailors.
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- Justin Rollings (12 June 2009). "Cigarette Advertising - Woodbines by Gordon Rollings" – via YouTube.
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- EMGColonel (25 May 2013). ""light up a woodbine" 1960's ? advertising record for Cinema use ?" – via YouTube.
- Knight, Lewis (November 17, 2019). "Tragic and heroic life of Prince Philip's mother Princess Alice of Battenberg". mirror.
- "The Little Waster". 11 April 2010.
- "Cleaning Windows Lyrics". 7 August 2018.
- Flogging Molly – Factory Girls, retrieved 2018-10-07
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