Weird Universe

Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking Periwinkle

Every so often the media needs to sound the alarm about a new drug that's corrupting the youth of the nation. In the summer of 1967, that drug was the periwinkle plant. The entire scare was based on one group of teenagers in Florida who experimented with the plant, but still it generated plenty of headlines.

Can smoking periwinkle actually get you high? Probably. Over at there are some reports of people experimenting with it. Though despite the scare of 1967, it never caught on as a popular drug.

Dr. George Dame, a health officer in Manatee County, warned that periwinkle could have all kinds of unpleasant side effects (such as "withering of muscle tissue") because periwinkle is the source of some drugs (vinblastine and vincristine) used in chemotherapy. However, an expert on those drugs disagreed with him. From Newsweek (June 26, 1967):

A chemist at Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis, where the drugs vincristine and vinblastine were developed, said last week that the perils may not be as great as Dame suspects. Both vincristine and vinblastine, he pointed out, are highly unstable and probably do not get into the smoke of burning periwinkle leaves in an active form. Nonetheless, the chemist was quick to put down the periwinkle cult. "Periwinkle," he said, "like most inedible plants, is toxic. You might get pretty sick to your stomach."

Sydney Morning Herald - Jun 4, 1967

Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Jan 29, 2016 | Comments (9)
Category: Drugs, Psychedelic, Smoking and Tobacco, 1960's

Consul the Chimp



A once-famous resident of the Bellevue Zoological Gardens in England, known for his pipe-smoking habit.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon May 26, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Animals, Anthropomorphism, Smoking and Tobacco, Europe, Nineteenth Century

Cigarette Karaoke

Plus, millions of free cigarettes for our hospitalized fighting men!
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Dec 26, 2013 | Comments (14)
Category: Addictions, Business, Advertising, Hospitals, Television, Smoking and Tobacco, 1950's

Murad Cigarette Ads



[Click either to enlarge]

Surely one of the most gorgeously over-the-top ad campaigns for any cigarette was the long-running series for Murad brand. What a realm of fantasy!

Read a small history of the brand and see a large gallery of images here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Aug 12, 2013 | Comments (6)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Fantasy, Smoking and Tobacco, Middle East, Twentieth Century

Smoke Smoke Smoke

The first musical anti-smoking propaganda?
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Feb 05, 2013 | Comments (4)
Category: Music, Smoking and Tobacco, 1940's

The Sport-Briar Pipe

image image


"Is that an Indian Club between your lips, or are you just glad to be smoking?"

No wonder this never caught on.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Oct 01, 2012 | Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Chindogu, Smoking and Tobacco, 1920's

Cremo and Spit-tipped Cigars

We all know that ad campaigns have often created the disease or deficiency they wish to sell remedies for. "Halitosis" and "BO" were Madison Avenue inventions.

But perhaps no campaign dared quite as much as that for Cremo cigars, with its charge that all its competitors spit on their product.


Original text here.


Original ad here. (Scroll down.)

But although Cremo increased its market share, their scheme ultimately backfired.

As this history says:

During the 1920s, the cigar industry began to suffer from image problems. The rise of organized crime during Prohibition, and the image of the stogie-chomping gangster--developed in part by Hollywood, and personified by such actors as Edward G. Robinson--gave the cigar an aura of disrespect among the public. Later that decade, the cigar industry faced a second crisis, when American Tobacco began promoting new, machine-rolled cigars. Its advertising asked: "Why run the risk of cigars made by dirty yellowed fingers and tipped in spit?" The image proved disastrous for the cigar industry as a whole. Cigar makers rushed to convert their manufacturing from hand-rolled to machine-rolled products, but cigar sales plunged through the 1930s. During this same time period, the cigar industry was hit hard by the rise in cigarette use across the United States. Cigar consumption never recovered to its early 1920s peak.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Apr 18, 2012 | Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Lies, Dishonesty and Cheating, Smoking and Tobacco, 1920's, 1930's


Just when you thought the anti-smoking campaign might be working, along comes a news story that proves otherwise. Ardi Rizal, aged two years, has a 40-per-day smoking habit. His mother has tried to get him to stop, especially since the government has offered to buy the family a new car once the child quits, but she says he is entirely too addicted. His father, on the other hand, doesn't see any problem - "He looks pretty healthy to me..." In the meantime, Ardi's health is such that he can't run around and play with the other kids. Instead he rides around on a plastic toy truck while puffing away, looking like a parody of a middle-aged truck driver.
Posted By: Nethie | Date: Thu May 27, 2010 | Comments (14)
Category: Addictions, Health, Tobacco and Smoking, Smoking and Tobacco, More Things To Worry About

No Smoking in Bismarck, North Dakota

And they mean it, too. Ron White, the popular comedian from the Blue Collar Comedy tour and various Comedy Central specials, is a whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking redneck, and proud of it. He's included those two fundamental elements in all of his shows. But apparently grumpy people in North Dakota won't stand for that kind of blatant disregard for the law. This is one of those times where you wonder just how uptight Americans have become since Janet Jackson flashed a tit on prime time.
Posted By: Nethie | Date: Wed May 20, 2009 | Comments (9)
Category: Crime, Drugs, Smoking and Tobacco, Comedians
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.