State Express 555

State Express 555: A Luxurious British Cigarette Brand

State Express 555

‍Photo by WikimediaImages on Pixabay

State Express 555 Logo

State Express 555, also known as 555 and Bentoel 555, is a luxury cigarette brand that originated in Westminster, London. It was first manufactured in the United Kingdom by the Ardath Tobacco Company and later acquired by British American Tobacco (BAT) in 1925[^1^]. This British cigarette brand has a rich history and has gained popularity both domestically and internationally.


The idea for the State Express brand came from the United States in 1893. Sir Albert Levy, a London tobacco merchant, was inspired during his visit to Manhattan where he rode the Empire State Express train, known for its record-breaking speed[^2^]. State Express was founded in London on March 10, 1896, and the brand name, along with a series of triple numbers, was registered as a trademark[^2^]. The Virginia tobacco blend of State Express 555, introduced in 1896, became the flagship brand of Ardath Tobacco Company and enjoyed great success[^2^].

War Times

During World War II, Ardath supplied 555 boxes of cigarettes to General Montgomery’s 8th Army, and the manufacturer received a personal letter of appreciation from Montgomery himself[^1^]. In the 1920s and 1930s, BAT held a dominant position in the Chinese market with State Express 555 playing a key role. The brand’s popularity in China was such that Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader, was known to be fond of 555 cigarettes[^5^].

Sport Sponsorship

State Express 555 has a history of sponsoring motorsports, particularly in rallying and Formula One. The brand’s logos were seen on Hong Kong – Beijing Rally cars and Subaru World Rally Championship cars from 1993 to 2004[^6^]. Subaru used 555’s blue and yellow color scheme as its WRC livery until its withdrawal, and the Subaru 22B model is speculated to have been named after 555[^6^]. In Formula One, State Express 555 sponsored British American Racing (BAR) and their drivers, Ricardo Zonta and Jacques Villeneuve, in the late 1990s and early 2000s[^6^].

Other Sponsorships

Apart from motorsports, 555 has also sponsored other events and occasions. In 1979 and 1982, 555 sponsored Badminton, and in 1980, they were a sponsor of the 1980 Summer Olympics[^6^]. The State Express Challenge Cup, a rugby league tournament, was named after the brand in 1984[^6^]. 555 also sponsored the 1992 World Rally Championship season in partnership with Bentoel Group and Rothmans Group[^6^].


State Express 555 has been sold in various British Commonwealth countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Canada, Grenada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Bangladesh, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand[^7^][^8^][^9^].

In Popular Culture

has made appearances in literature and popular culture. The brand is mentioned in Salman Rushdie’s post-colonial novel, Midnight’s Children, although it is misattributed to W.D. & H.O. Wills[^10^]. The brand was also officially recognized by Catherine, Princess of Wales, and was a popular choice in the Dutch East Indies, where it was known as Bentoel 555[^10^].


The official slogan, motto, and tagline of State Express 555 is “Smoothness Above All Else,” reflecting the brand’s commitment to delivering a smooth smoking experience[^10^].

continues to be a symbol of luxury and quality in the cigarette industry. With its rich history, international recognition, and association with motorsports, this British brand has carved a niche for itself in the market. Whether enjoyed by enthusiasts of fine tobacco or collectors of iconic cigarette brands, State Express 555 remains an iconic choice for those seeking a luxurious smoking experience.

Note: The primary keyword for this article is “State Express 555,” and the secondary keywords are “luxury cigarette brand,” “British American Tobacco,” “motorsports sponsorship,” and “brand history.”

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