When I was a child packets of Woodbine cigarettes were sold from a vending machine outside the local post office, I used to run a Corgi model of a John Player Special-sponsored formula one car over the vinyl floor tiles and up the formica covered unit doors in the kitchen and the Marlboro Man sat in his saddle looking out to the horizon from billboards and magazine adverts.
One of my favourite sweets in the newsagents was fake cigarettes. With their tiny Spanish-made packets containing fragile sugared sticks with a pear drop flavour and a bright pink front end to simulate a sparked-up tab you too could be just like an adult. That was some 30 years ago, now children are mollycoddled and it is illegal to sell them candy cigarettes.
Thankfully the free market thinking in the US allows children lots of time to refine their smoking technique before throwing up after their first drag on a Lucky Strike. Here is a selection of pack designs that I picked up in CyberCandy to share with you.
The child who seeks his adventure in the works of the classic adventure writers like Robert Louis Stevenson is more likely to succumb to the citrus flavour of Captain Black’s Pirate cigarettes. Whether you are a fair-weather buccaneer or prefer surfing over to The Pirate Bay these are the cigarettes for you.
For the kids of hipster parents; the post-modern Black Lung is the ideal warning against the likely outcome, but the parents still don’t have to worry about being hypocritical of having a crafty Marlboro Light to satisfy the college-era nicotine habit or suppress that appetite to keep hunger and the need to break from work at bay. This packet is most likely to get sported along with temporary low-art / rockabilly tattoos in the playground.
I love Machismo because of the way the packaging tries to evoke the Marlboro man borrowing from pulp fiction western novel covers by the likes of Elmore Leonard and Spaghetti Western film posters. Not sure how it would resonate with the children of today but was the most aesthetically pleasing out of all the packet designs in my opinion.