Apologies for a longer than usual absence – if anyone has noticed! I was chatting with a friend earlier today and our conversation prompted this post. Sue referred to the fact that when we were children, in the 1950s, the majority of adults smoked. It was so normal and accepted that as small children we just thought that was what adults did, even if we didn’t like it. People smoked indoors and out, on trains, buses and in cars, in cinemas and theatres, in restaurants and in their homes and other people’s. Even if you were a non-smoker, it was the norm and something you just had to live with.
My parents didn’t smoke but they had ashtrays handy when friends visited and a box with cigarettes in which they could offer round at gatherings. Although our house had no regular smokers in it, when people visited the house would often have been full of smoke and I don’t remember thinking this was at all odd. In fact, since smoking was what adults did (most of them) children used to role-play as grown ups by pretending to smoke.
50s children with sweet cigarettes.
I can remember being able to buy sweet cigarettes and sometimes at Christmas we would be bought a smoking set – not sure what it was called – which was like a selection box but full of smoking related objects. There would be pipes, cigars, cigarettes, matches, loose tobacco etc all made out of sugar, flavouring and colouring.
When I was in secondary school I can remember that if ever I had to take a message to the staff room I would knock on the door and when it was opened I would struggle to see across the room as the fug was so dense. When you got your exercise books back after they had been marked they always smelled really strongly of the staff room smoke. Looking back now I think it must have been awful to be in those staff rooms if you were one of the few who didn’t smoke.
Now in our smoke free era all of this is hard to imagine. Yes, loads of people still smoke, and many deaths are caused every year by it. But, here in the UK and many other countries, there is no smoking allowed in any public place. Nobody now has to sit in a smoke-filled room or vehicle.