Friday, October 8, 2010

Doctors know best

Ancient ads such as this one show just how much progress has been made since those carefree days when people believed naively in publicity messages, just as they believed that smoking was an elegant and harmless social behavior.

Retrospectively, I'm always amazed that a company would have decided to name its cigarettes Camel. It's a term that evokes bad breath, combined with the fleeting thought that maybe the flavor is obtained by mixing a small quantity of camel shit with the tobacco… maybe rather a small quantity of tobacco with the camel shit.


  1. Well, since I have been in France, I have smoked only Camels (sans filtre) with a Dunhill filter holder. In England I used the same type of holder with Player's, Piccadilly or Senior Service cigarettes.

    All filter-tipped cigarettes make me cough and I have long suspected that filter cigarettes are a means whereby the public can be fooled into smoking all sorts of horrible stuff - one has only to remove the filter to prove this fact.

    The tragedy is that the days of proper cigarettes have long gone. When in funds in the '60s and '70s and even the '80s, I would enjoy Abdullah No 11 (Turkish ovals with gold-tips) or No 16 (Egyptian - gold-tipped and very, very mild, smooth and aromatic). And there were Balkan Sobranies with their Yenidje tobacco - delicious, Benson and Hedges "Cairo" cigarettes and so on. As Oscar Wilde once remarked "Gold-tipped cigarettes are very expensive; I can only afford them when I am in debt."

    I am given to understand that the health fascists in Brussels are to blame for the disppearance of decent gourmet cigarettes, with their infuriating need to interfere in the minutiae of one's personal life.

  2. I find it highly possible, as you suggest, that the quality of the great old cigarette brands has deteriorated over the last half-century. The case I often mention is that of the common French Gauloises brand. When I first started smoking them in Australia, as a student in the early '60s, I remember quite well that you could detect the presence of a Gauloises smoker, through the marvelous aroma, as soon as you entered a pub. Since then, manufacturers have developed the habit of blending tobaccos, with the intention of creating some kind of standard product. And the characteristic aroma of Gauloises ceased to exist.

  3. Yes Bill, I remember the Camel cigarettes in the soft yellow/brown coloured pack. We used to refer to them as " the only cigarette with a picture of the factory on the packet." I think this is clearly along the lines you alluded to in your blog.