The Smokin Old Days









When I was a kid my mother would send me down to Rexalls with  22 cents to get her a pack of cigarettes. Back then the stores sold them to kids after asking if they were for your parents. Around the age eight or nine I became aware that my older brother was smoking, and soon after my friends and I decided it was the cool thing to do.


We had usually two ways of getting them, either stealing a couple at a time from our parents stash, or buying a pack under the guise they were for our parents. A pack of Kents would last us weeks and we would bury the pack under a rock on the top of Sturgis Hill where we would light up and be cool. My  parents smoked Pall Malls without a filter so I got introduced to the smoking environment the tough raw way.


Some of us had trouble inhaling and I was one of them. I can remember sleeping out with a friend in his back yard one night, and we had a pack of Larks. We waited til dark before we pulled out the cigarettes and lit up. Well I decided that I was going to give inhaling all I had and proceeded to do so. I was amazed at how easily I was able to suck in the smoke and let it out. I remember feeling quite proud of myself for overcoming the inhaling stigma and leaned back to continue smoking like a pro. I don’t know how long I was on this trip but I finally realized the cigarette wasn’t lit. Don’t ask me how I couldn’t see the tip of the cigarette light up in the dark but my life has been full of those not the brightest bulb moments.


Eventually I learned how to inhale and that has been one of the biggest regrets of my life. I smoked like a fiend after that. My father quit smoking and my mother switched to Tareytons. Now they were actually so light they felt exactly like the unlit Larks I was smoking only this time it was lit.Didn’t steal too many of those.


Before I was sixteen and could buy them legally, we smoked anything we could get our hands on. Newport, Kool, Parliment, Viceroy, and even the unfiltered ones like Camels, Lucky Strike, Chesterfield.






By the time I was twenty two I was smoking two and half packs a day and enjoying only two cigarettes out of them all. I was working in a factory at the time and my job required me to work with oil and as a result when I smoked, I would get oil on the paper and be inhaling that on top of the smoke. Needless to say it wasn’t pleasant. I had tried to quit numerous times and on Thanksgiving Day 1975 I had my last cigarette. Cold Turkey. It was hard in the beginning especially when my wife was still smoking (she gave it up a year or two later).





Little by little I became acclimated to the world of non smokers. Food tasted better, the smell on my clothes was no longer there, I didn’t have very many hangovers after a night of drinking because when I drank, I smoked twice as much. I became aware of just how disgusting the habit was now that I was no longer was a participant. My sense of smell became much more acute in picking out the smokers in the crowd. I’m sorry I took up the habit  but am glad I quit at a young age and never looked back. As a reminder, cigarettes cost around 60 cents a pack when I quit. Today around $9. Damn I should be as rich as Warren Buffet

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