Saturday, August 12, 2017


By Juan Montoya
I have never been a tobacco smoker and when I joined the military it seemed that smoking was a part of the desired tough-guy image that every gung-ho Marine wanted to emulate.

Even before we got our drill instructors, the people in charge made sure that the recruits got a smoke break between chores.
Guys would use the rolled up sleeves of T-shirts to  carry their cigarettes and would practice the worldly look of holding them in their mouth without using their hands.

Cigarettes and the left over butts that resulted from smoking were part of the culture. When we came off the bus from the San Diego airport, the PFC in charge asked the 70 or so recruits if anyone had a high school diploma. A few hands were raised and then he asked if anyone had gone to college.

One guy raised his hand and everyone thought that he would get some choice duty. Instead, he was given an empty tin can and told to pick up cigarette butts.

During infantry training in Camp Pendleton, drill instructors would stop our training and declare that the smoking lamb was lit. Then the recruits would have to repeat the smoking permission chant.
"Sir, Smokers who smoke smokes, 
Smoke one smoke
So smoke, smokers
Smoke, Sir!"
Those recruits among us that did not smoke were made to use our empty cans of C-rations to collect the cigarette butts that the smokers produced. The non smokers would be made to walk in front  of the smokers and have them flick their ashes into the cans.
The next time around hardly anyone didn't smoke. To the DIs, that is what they wanted. Everyone had to be uniform and do exactly as the rest of the platoon did. It was much simpler.

Image result for c rations with cigarettesCigarettes were a part of the box of C-rations that we got for our training in the field. Each C-rat box had a small carton of four cigarettes inside it. The brothers would covet the Kools and others preferred the Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes, and other off-brands that didn't sell as well in the market.

Much later I found out that the inclusion of tobacco in the C-rations was a calculated economic move to aid the southern states much as the proliferation of military bases in the Deep South. Not only were you enticing the nonsmoker to take up the habit by subtle coercion, you were also providing cigarette companies (from the tobacco-growing South, of course) with new consumers.

The government has since distanced itself from openly supporting the consumption of tobacco. even at the reluctance of southern legislators to allow their states to do without the income from that captive audience.
Some states went even further and sued the tobacco companies winning multi-million judgments to be used for anti-smoking campaigns.

The government of Mexico has taken the anti-smoking effort one step further. Cigarettes sold in Mexico now come in boxes with garish images. In the one on top of this post, the caption below the image of a dead rat reads that it is a "toxic product" and that arsenic in cigarettes is used as rat poison.
Other admonitions on the box point out that more than 4,000 toxic substances are produced when you light up a smoke. If you persist, it warns, you could suffer a slow, painful death.

People from there say that other pictures include an aborted human fetus instead of the dead rat.
Is it working? It's hard to tell, but when we found the box posted up to it was empty, indicating that the smoker could care  less about the warnings.

Bad habits,  it would appear, are ingrained and hard to break.


Anonymous said...

Get a vicious divorce from a cheating ex wife, and I promise you will smoke two packs a day soon afterwards

Anonymous said...

BrownsvilleSanchez , Texas USA

V. Tinker Shays said...

what do the meskins put on their packages of chiva?

Anonymous said...

Really? Captain bob?