The corner candy store used to sell them for a penny each when I was in High School. This was twice the cost of a cigarette if bought by the pack, and also before the time that anyone thought to ask how old the buyer was.
In between WWI and WWII, movies were the thing. Records and movies and house parties brought teens together. The 30's was the decade that was defining the rest of our lives. A cigarette hanging from the lips of a movie star marked him as being strong, or thoughtful, or loving, or adventurous depending on the story line.
For the female star, it was glamorous, sexy, daring, desirable, no matter what was the story. You couldn't picture Marlene Deitrich or Bette Davis without that cigarette. Since the first world war ended, lighting up a Camel or a Lucky Strike was the glamorous thing to do. Flappers would never appear in public without that lit cigarette. Soldiers in war movies were never allowed to die without a cigarette being put between their lips to ease their last dying breath.
Then came WWII, and along with millions of draftees, cigarette manufacturers went to war. As its contribution to the war effort, the familiar Lucky Strike green was eliminated to prevent the German dye manufacturers from financing Hitler's war. The slogan for Lucky Strikes became "Lucky Strike Green went to war!"
Uncle Sam then rationed cigarette sales to civilians, and sold most
of the available supplies to the military for five cents a pack. During breaks in their training, recruits were told.."Smoke, if you have them", and on ships at sea "Now hear this: The smoking lamp is lit", was a call for lighting up a smoke.
Civilians got out their rolling machines and sacks of cigarette tobacco and made their own. Some servicemen sent smokes home to their relatives who had been reduced to smoking inferior brands at black market prices.
The only restriction on smoking imposed by the services during war time was operational; Never puff on a cigarette while on patrol because the glow of the lit butt may be seen by the enemy on a dark night. Duck under cover when you strike a match. "Field strip" that butt before you discard it.
Before discharge from the service, you were advised to stock up on your favorite brand, because they will be difficult to find, and expensive when you become a civilian again. The only admonition on the pack was to Buy War Bonds, to help the nation. Filter tips were there to prevent bits of tobacco and the glue on the paper from sticking to your lips.
When the war was over, gradually, rationed articles came back on the market and you were free to sit in the smoking section of the movies and light up while watching the show. Politicians went back to their smoke-filled rooms to make their deals, and restaurants had an ash tray on every table. Trains had smoking cars, and airlines seated you in your choice of smoking or non-smoking seats. Fraternal organizations ocassionaly had "Smokers" where the audience was mostly male, the entertainment varied, and cigar and cigarette use was encouraged, not just tolerated.
Today the dwindling number of diehard smokers are facing more and more restrictions. Smoking is now becoming an outdoor activity as more and more "No Smoking" signs appear on entrance doors of commercial establishments. An absence of ash trays in some private homes
gives fair warning of the occupants distaste for either first, or second-hand smoke.
Smoke alarms used to be installed to warn of a fire....now they are installed in Airplane rest rooms to unmask secret smokers. Now, the people you see lounging around the outside of buildings in cold weather are not masochists, they are enjoying a forbidden smoke. They are the parriahs of today's society.
Now, you have to walk a mile or more for a Camel because you can't smoke on a bus or in a cab. The smoker has now become a lonely person, isolated from polite society, and hating it. When riding in a friends car, he notices that the cigarette lighter is missing, and the ash trays are full of mints, coins, or some other non-essential items.
Yes, we smokers have become imbittered. Our children are constantly urging us to quit. We hate those individuals who constantly remind us that they quit the habit "a long time ago". We smokers have done that too ....Many times. We know what it is like to quit.
We thought it was a low blow when the price of our habit increased by more than 25% a year ago, and then another dollar recently. Smoking used to be an economic low-impact habit, but now has become a high ticket item. It used to be "smoke if you have them", but now it is "smoke if you can afford it."
We are aware that there are many intellectual discussions about the relative benefits of inhaling marijuana smoke, and yet we shy away from that scene. We just hope that our children will continue to love us in spite of their anticipating future problems caused by second-hand smoke. We have been tolerant of non-smokers, and wish that some of that tolerant attitude will also be shown to us.
We know we should stop. We are aware of the health hazards, and we wish we had the moral strength to join our non-smoking friends. We too would like to quit smoking.