Category:
Smoking and Tobacco

Charles Norman, the toddler who smoked

Charles "Mickey" Norman achieved fame in the 1930s, while only a 2-year-old, because of his love of smoking. He was known as the "puffing prodigy." For a few years the media checked back at each of his birthdays and found him still smoking. Then they eventually lost interest... until his 18th birthday, when they checked and found he was still smoking, and quite healthy. The last news story about him I could find was when he was 25. Not clear what became of him after that. He might still be alive. If so, he'd be 87.

St. Louis Star and Times - July 12, 1933



Public Opinion - July 31, 1934



The Hackensack Record - July 29, 1936



Newsweek - Mar 20, 1950



No Ill Effects: At the age of 14 months, Charles (Mickey) Norman of Paterson, N.J., picked up a smoldering cigar from his father’s ash tray and took a few puffs. He liked it. By the age of 3, Mickey was an inveterate stogie smoker—his pictures appeared in papers from Italy to Australia, bringing an avalanche of fan mail. A short time later he announced: “I drink beer.” None of this seemed to have an ill effect. Now a husky, 6-foot-tall auto mechanic of 18, Norman estimates that he has smoked 13,000 cigars, along with pipes and cigarettes.
-Newsweek, Mar 20, 1950

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 30, 1956

Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 17, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Smoking and Tobacco, 1930s

I’m a Thinner

This ad campaign came out in 1976, before Stephen King's 1984 novel Thinner. But even so, "I'm a Thinner" sounds creepy, like something from a horror novel.

It also sounds a bit like they're saying "I'm a sinner" with a lisp. Maybe intentional?





source: UCSF

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 08, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Advertising, Smoking and Tobacco, 1970s

Boy-Scout Cigarettes

On sale early in the twentieth century. The story is that they were definitely NOT endorsed by the Boy Scouts. Eventually the Scouts got legislation passed making it illegal for companies to use their name.



Boys' Life - Aug 1917



Winfield Daily Free Press - Nov 7, 1917

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 02, 2018 - Comments (5)
Category: Smoking and Tobacco, 1910s

Jim Purol, world-record smoker

One of comedian Jim Purol's recurring gags was to stuff record-setting amounts of things in his mouth, especially cigarettes and cigars. For instance, he set a Guinness world record for smoking seven packs of cigarettes simultaneously. Ironically, he was a non-smoker. From the LA Times (July 18, 1987):

His trick of broadening a yawn into a crater crammed with seven packs of gaspers also has given Purol, 35, a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He scored a second mention by smoking 38 pipes at one puffing. He opened wider, gritted his tonsils, and earned a third entry in 1983 by smoking 40 finger-fat stogies at the same time.
Paradoxically, Purol is a nonsmoker. It gets better. His world cigar smoking record was a charity performance benefiting the American Lung Assn.
"I hate smoking," he explained. "I perform the stunts as a statement against smoking. Lookit this picture of me with cigarettes stuffed in my face. This is glamorous? It's disgusting."


Jim Purol (left) and Mike Papa each smoking 135 cigarettes in five minutes - October 1978



Weekly World News - Jan 1, 1985



Philadelphia Daily News - Apr 22, 1983



Back in 1976, he also set the world's duration drumming record by drumming for 320 hours.

Jasper Herald - June 30, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 15, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: World Records, Smoking and Tobacco

Lois Lane, chain smoker

I've seen Superman II a couple of times, but the fact that Lois Lane was chain smoking never registered with me. I'm guessing that cigarettes would have no effect on Superman. So he'd never bother to smoke. Although he mentions in the clip below that he never drinks when he flies. So evidently he can get drunk.

From Drugging the Poor: Legal and Illegal Drugs and Social Inequality, by Merrill Singer:
A noteworthy example of the tobacco commodification of a movie is Superman II, a film clearly targeted to young audiences that for years has been reshown on TV. In the movie, there are over 20 exposures of the Marlboro logo, for which Philip Morris is believed to have paid over $40,000. Moreover, although the character Lois Lane never smoked in the comic book on which the movie is based, she chain-smokes her way through the second Superman movie, and in the final climatic scene Supermn fights it out with his enemies in an urban landscape replete with Marlboro billboards.






More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 14, 2018 - Comments (7)
Category: Movies, Advertising, Smoking and Tobacco

The Non-Smokers Inn



Lyndon Sanders opened the Non-Smokers Inn in 1981 in Dallas. At the time, it was the first exclusively non-smoking hotel in America. Actually it may have been the first to offer any rooms exclusively for non-smokers, period. I'm not sure. But as it turned out, he anticipated the non-smoking trend too well. From cnn.com:

In a business sense, he was ahead of his time -- too far ahead. The Non-Smokers Inn did well at first, but by 1991 Sanders had to turn the hotel over to new management, which changed the name to the Classic Motor Inn, and allowed 22 of the 135 rooms to welcome smokers.

It wasn't that the world had turned its back on his idea -- it was that the world had embraced it too thoroughly. Major hotels had started putting in nonsmoking floors, and advertising the fact; people who didn't smoke suddenly had no trouble finding a clean, fresh-smelling room. The Non-Smokers Inn, struggling for business, had to become something else and let smokers in, because the nonsmokers no longer had to look so hard for what they desired.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 30, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Hotels, Smoking and Tobacco, 1980s

Smoking Ants

The earliest report I can find of people in the Persian Gulf smoking ants is the one below, from 1994. But news stories have continued to report this practice. This one from 2008 explains that it's specifically the red samsun ant that's smoked, and explains, "Smoking the red ant gives a similar sensation to smoking marijuana and sniffing glue because of the high concentration of formic acid found in the ants."

Honolulu Advertiser - Sep 11, 1994



Brachyponera sennaarensis
Image via antweb

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 06, 2018 - Comments (7)
Category: Drugs, Smoking and Tobacco

Reg on Smoking

In the early 1990s, Regal cigarettes in the UK launched an advertising campaign that featured an everyman named Reg who offered his dad-humor insights on various subjects.

The first ad read, "Reg on Smoking: I smoke 'em because my name's on 'em." As he held his fingers over the 'al' in Regal.


Other insights followed.

Reg on train-spotting: "There's one."

Reg on party politics: "If you drop ash on the carpet you won't get invited again."

But the campaign was eventually banned because medical researchers discovered that the stupid humor of the ads appealed mostly to young adolescents, whereas adults 33-55 years old, who were supposedly the target group for the campaign, didn't identify much with Reg.

Below are all the other examples of Reg ads that I could find online.



Reg on the Stock Exchange: I'd never swap my cubes for gravy granules



Reg on Race Relations: My Uncle Nobby used to own a bookies



More info: JimHagart.com, "Cigarette advertising and children's smoking: why Reg was withdrawn".

Update: A few more insights from Reg.

Reg on taxes: "Too many cabs drive too fast."

Reg on the Exchange Rate Mechanism: "Erm."

Reg on television: "No, I'm not. I'm on a poster."

Reg on the greenhouse effect: "My tomatoes seem to grow better under glass."

Reg on the meaning of life: "Depends if you get time off for good behaviour."

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 30, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising, Smoking and Tobacco, 1990s

Self-Lighting Cigarettes

Self-lighting cigarettes seem to be an idea that inventors keep dreaming up, not realizing that the idea has already been tried. The basic problem with them is identified in this thread on the Guardian. Either the head of the cigarette rips off as you try to light it, or it doesn't light and you're left with a smashed-up cigarette.

Also, although I'm not a smoker, it seems like a problem that doesn't need a solution. I get the sense that smokers like the ritual of lighting their ciggies.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 14, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Smoking and Tobacco

Marlboro Beer

In the early 1970s, there was briefly such a thing as Marlboro Beer (trademark registration). Philip Morris (having just acquired Miller Brewing) figured that many people like to smoke as they drink beer, so surely a beer that shared the same brand name as their best-selling cigarette would be a success. But apparently test marketing indicated otherwise. So that was the end of Marlboro Beer.

The few bottles of it that were sold now fetch a high price (as much as $1000) as collector's items.

via Box Vox 1



Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 21, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Smoking and Tobacco, 1970s, Alcohol

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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