The brand was introduced by R.A. Patterson of Richmond, Virginia, in 1871 as a cut-plug chewing tobacco and later a cigarette. In 1905, the company was acquired by the American Tobacco Company (ATC), and Lucky Strike Cigarettes would later prove to be its answer to R.J. Reynolds' Camel.
In 1917, the brand started using the slogan "It's Toasted" to inform consumers about the manufacturing method in which the tobacco is toasted rather than sun-dried. Because of this different manufacturing process, Lucky Strike Cigarettes are said to have a unique and distinctive flavor. The message "L.S.M.F.T." ("Lucky Strike means fine tobacco") was introduced on the package in the same year.
In 1935, ATC began to sponsor Your Hit Parade, featuring North Carolina tobacco auctioneer Speed Riggs. The weekly radio show's countdown catapulted the brand's success and would remain popular for 25 years. The shows capitalized on the tobacco auction theme and each ended with the signature phrase "Sold, American".
The brand's signature dark green pack was changed to white in 1942. In a famous advertising campaign that used the slogan "Lucky Strike Cigarettes Green has gone to war", the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green color was needed for World War II. American Tobacco actually used chromium to produce the green ink, and copper to produce the gold-colored trim. A limited supply of each was available, and substitute materials made the package look drab. However, the truth of the matter was that the white package was introduced to modernize the label and to increase the appeal of the package among female smokers; market studies showed that the green package was not found attractive to women smokers who had become an important consumer of tobacco products. The war effort became a convenient way to make the product more marketable while appearing as patriotic at the same time.
In 1978 and 1994, export rights and U.S. rights were purchased by Brown & Williamson. In 1996, filtered styles were launched in San Francisco, but it was not until 1999 that they were available all over the United States.
In late 2006 both the Full Flavored and Light filtered varieties of Lucky Strike Cigarettes were discontinued in North America. However, Lucky Strike Cigarettes will continue to have marketing and distribution support in territories controlled by British American Tobacco as a global drive brand. In addition, R.J. Reynolds continues to market the original, non-filter Lucky Strikes Cigarettes in the United States.