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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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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.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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