Not long after introduction of the product it became the target of a spoof in MAD Mazine, with the well-known phrase, "Sailem [sic] don't inhalem."
In the late 1970s, the brand's slogan (sung to music in television and radio commercials prior to their prohibition on January 1, 1971) was "You can take Salem out of the country, but...you can't take the country out of Salem." Later, the slogan "Springtime... it happens every Salem" was used.
There are now two main varieties of Salem: Green Label and Black Label. The Green Label is marketed as being more smooth-tasting, while the Black Label is said to be stronger or "harsher" tasting.
The packaging for Salem was significantly revised in the late 1990s, with the addition of Black Labels which had sliding packs, and the inclusion of a single cigarette with a dark green filter, appropriately called "The Lucky" after the tradition of flipping the first cigarette in the box upside down and smoking it last.
In Japan, a "clean cigarette" was introduced in August 1995 by R.J. Reynolds and branded as Salem Pianissimo, which was designed to reduce the odor of the cigarette, and generate a pleasant smell and taste in a society which holds cleanliness as a high attribute.
When cigarette advertising on TV was banned in the United States, the comedy show Laugh-In spoofed how manufacturers might get their message across subliminally: "Let's take a coupla boats up to Newport and Salem."
In 2001, as with legislation restricting tobacco sponsorship in Hong Kong, the tournament sponsorship was proven to be controversial, when its official logo was altered to include the logo of Perrier, causing anti-smoking campaigners to claim that the organisers exploited a loophole in its sponsorship clause.
Salem has also introduced new light and ultralight variety cigarettes.