Merit is an American brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by Philip Morris USA in the United States and Philip Morris International outside the United States.


Merit was first introduced to national markets in January 1976.

Philip Morris had seen the competitive value of a so-called “health cigarette” following the first Surgeon General’s report on cigarettes in 1964. Over the course of the next 12 years, Philip Morris worked on such a product, culminating in the 1976 product launch of the Merit brand. One key tactic was to “enrich” the product by applying extensive efforts in flavor chemistry and additives. 

Philip Morris seemed proud of the fact that they had managed this while using “less than 100 flavorants”.

An extensive consumer testing program of the brand was eventually conducted, including blind interviews with nearly 3000 smoker panelists. The majority of consumer participants reported that the new MERIT was equal or superior in taste to brands that delivered 60% more tar.

Since its introduction in 1976, Philip Morris has created many posters- and billboard adverts to promote Merit as a “low-tar” alternative.

Merit’s ad campaign ran in the 1980s used a journalistic, reportorial style that an editor might use for a front-page story in a major newspaper.

The market launch strategies gave particular emphasis to the choice of the name Merit, obviously communicating apparent virtue, and an advertising style that made this product development seem eminently scientific and newsworthy and less like an ad.

Merit was the primary focus of the sales force for a full year. They spent $45 million on advertising in 1976! This was a record amount for a new brand introduction at the time.

Merit Ultra Lights were introduced in 1983.


  • Gold pack (light) – box: kings
  • Blue pack (ultra light) – box: kings and 100s.
  • Gold pack (light) – soft: kings and 100s
  • Blue pack (ultra light) – soft: kings and 100s
  • Bronze pack (Ultima) – soft: kings and 100s, box: kings and 100s
  • Menthol gold pack (light) – soft: kings and 100s
  • Menthol silver pack (ultra light) – soft: kings and 100s

All the Merit cigarettes contain either all of a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • Tobacco
  • Water
  • Sugars (Sucrose and/or invert sugar and/or High-fructose corn syrup)
  • Propylene glycol
  • Glycerol Licorice Extract
  • Diammonium phosphate
  • Ammonium hydroxide
  • Cocoa and Cocoa Products
  • Carob Bean and Extract
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Menthol

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