In article #6 I talked about smoking in my younger days. This is an attempt to bring it up to date and add facts forgotten at the time of writing.
The government has long used the tax laws to penalise smokers on the grounds of health. Of course if they really believed that then they would have banned them altogether, but then they would have lost considerable revenue.
In 1960 a standard packet of 20 cigarettes cost ~20p; by 1980 it was 60p; 1990 £1.65p; 2000 £3.88p ; 2015 £9.16p and I believe today (2021) it is £10+ for the most expensive brands. In passing: shops are now compelled to hide their cigarettes behind shutters and smoking ads are not permitted in the UK.
The price rise seems horrendous, but in comparison a pint of beer cost 5p (1/-) a pint when I had my first (illegal) ‘half’. The same (keg) beer costs ~£3.60 in a pub in this area – i.e. 72x dearer. On the cigarette prices above the rise is only ~50x. However the average wage outside London has only risen ~45x so in those good old days beer and fags really were ‘cheaper’.
While my memory is still functioning: I mentioned the cheaper brands of (Wild) Woodbine, Park Drive and Players Weights, available or popular in different regions. There were dearer brands which included Players, Capstan, Gold Flake and Senior Service being the most well known. Du Maurier, Black Cat, Turf and a ‘perfumed’ Turkish(?) brand called Passing Clouds, appeared after the war and in, I suppose, the mid 60s, the tobacco companies launched new brands to appeal to the newly well-off young people: Strand, Benson & Hedges, Embassy, Lambert & Butler, Rothmans, Silk Cut and more that I have long forgotten.
It just occurred to me that when I was 10 years old (1951) at primary school, my teacher used to send me to a shop half a mile away to get his cigarettes and as brands were scarce, he was not always happy with the brand I managed to return with.
In recent years electronic smoking devices have emerged. These vaporise a liquid to produce a ‘smoke’ which may or may not contain nicotine. They also emit to the air a (sometimes ‘flavoured’) cloud of vapour to simulate the traditional cigarette smoke, although I believe this is not an essential part of the process and is simply for effect. This is known as ‘Vaping’ and although nicotine is addictive, the tar associated with tobacco is absent, making the claim that the product is ‘less’ harmful. Whatever the claims, they are banned in most indoor spaces.