cigarette ashUp In Smoke

I started smoking regularly—a pack a day—at the tender baby boomer age of fifteen, no longer sneaking as I had in my pubescent days.“Too young,” my parents declared. In your invincible youth, health arguments have little effect. “Stunt your growth” and “bad breath” were more effective. For the record, I’ve been “clean and smoke free” for over thirty years.

“When did you start smoking?” I asked my Mom. That ended the discussion.

I was a middle class kid in a working class town where the “hoods” were the cool guys a la Grease.” It was natural to emulate them. Girls seemed to like guys who smoked. It imparted a sexy pop culture “bad boy” image and I needed all the sexy bad boy boosting I could get.

My brands, in chronological order:

Chesterfield.  Filched from step-father.

Kent. Filched from Mom.

Pall Mall. First brand I purchased.

Marlboro. I left for a while but always returned to Marlboro Country. Boomers made this #1.

Kools. A brief fling to imitate my father.

Newport. Perfect fit for the University of Southern California.

Players. Perfect fit for Cambridge University.

Tobacco from India hand cigarette buttsrolled with marijuana. A boomer favorite. Perfect fit for the University of Michigan.

Raleigh’s. Received zippo lighter and coffee maker with the coupons.

Bel Aire. Light menthol. I joined a fad.

Viceroy. Briefly, to impress a girl who smoked them.

English Ovals. Briefly, to impress girl who smoked them.

At the end of my cigarette career, the following brands in an effort to smoke “healthy.”

Kent. Smoking asbestos but didn’t know it.

Vantage. Not satisfying. Considered a stepping stone on the way to quitting.

Carlton.  Like smoking air.

Shermans. Advertised as “pure,” without additives and the highest quality tobacco.  Boomers were the biggest fans. Best smoke I ever had. Made it hard to quit. The last puff I took.

For many baby boomers, cigarettes were regarded as a fashion, not a fatality.

Terry Hamburg writes Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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