So, fresh-faced, I head into my teens with a cigarette between my lips. With today’s laws, it is slightly harder for children or teens, to buy cigarettes or booze but now parents are relieved if that is all Suzie or Johnny are indulging in.
With designer drugs on the upswing and less interaction between children and their parents, it is hard to get a handle on what the kids are doing.
As each generation can testify to the one before, “Yeah, we know, back in your day, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, things were different.” Boy, were they ever! We walked the streets of major cities without a fear of being harmed; part of this was foolishness and part of that, it truly was safer. There were drug addicts but those were people you heard about, not lived with as neighbors or in your own home.
Television in the home setting was a fledgling with comedy, music, or news being the staple served while you sat with a tray first on your knees, then on its own little legs. The commercials, at first, were straightforward. You were sold a product on the merits of the sellers’ belief in its product and they were entertaining little stories to go with the product. The innocuous commercials that sold refrigerators or washing machines that never broke down but then …
I Love Lucy, a major comedy of the day, had cigarettes used casually within the storyline leading into the commercial. And the memorable, to a child and probably some adults, were the dancing packs of cigarettes and the dancing cigarettes themselves.
The children’s cartoon, The Flintstones was originally adult fare and thus has the main characters smoking their favorite cigarettes. Did it really matter that the children of the house were also partaking of the show? After all, didn’t dad and mom smoke too?
My walk on the deadly side started in the late 1950s just when the cigarette companies were starting to add chemicals to the tobacco. My grandfather had smoked his own rolled cigarettes from a blend bought at the local tobacconists and another cherry aromatic for his pipe smoking. His smoking was limited to one or two cigarettes a week and one session with the pipe during the same period; not a chain-smoker by any means. And his blends were pure without added fillers and chemicals.
I neither was a chain smoker but because I used regular cigarettes, I was exposed to all the chemicals that were added at that time. Within five years, I had changed brands at least eight times, each time for a hardier, more robust flavor. I enjoyed smoking and did not have a smoker cough.