Posted by: winteridge | January 4, 2012

Winter Musings

Just visiting with some retired friends yesterday, and someone brought up the price of cigarettes and the health hazards of smoking.  Seems all of us are former smokers, and we tossed around notes on how long we smoked and when (and how many times) we gave it up.  I mentioned that I started in the 1950’s when in the army, and unfiltered cigs cost $.10 a pack…a buck bought a carton.  I made $99 a month, army pay, and gas was about $.20 a gallon.

If you do some comparisons to today’s prices…well, let’s look:  A pack of cigarettes today will cost around $10, or $90-100 for a carton.  At that rate of inflation, gas would now cost about $20 per gallon, if I am calculating right.  But that would not be a problem, as my income would be around $10,000 a month.  Now surely some Americans make that much, but I never will.  If I did, I could probably afford to pay 10 bucks a day or more for cigarettes.  Many people who live on a lot less still manage to support a smoking habit…a pack a day…$70 per week, more or less.  Not that I mean to come across as another reformed smoker, but think about it.  Not to mention the health problems that go with it.  Does not make sense.



  1. I smoked for 35 years, more or less, and quit 15 years ago (May 3, 1996 at 5:30 PM–how bad is it to remember that?). I have just been diagnosed with COPD, after thinking I had quit in time to dodge the bullet. Think again.
    When I was in college there was a scrumbly market down by the warehouses and docks in Portland, Ore where I got Airline cigaretts for $1.00/carton. They tasted pretty bad, but short of rolling your own, which some of us did, it was the cheapest way, and we were all poor. The tobacco came in little bags closed with a string, and was called Bull Durham. Remember that, anyone?
    Horse meat from that market was 0.25/lb (I only bought the tenderloin and heart–the rest was too tough) and I could get a 50 lb. sack of potatoes for 0.75, 50/lb rice was 1.50 and 50lb of dried milk was 3.50.
    Of my three children, one never smoked, and the other two have quit before age 40 (I was 59 when I quit). Neither of my teenaged grandchildren smokes. Times have changed for the better.

    • I’ve never smoked – never even tried it. I’m allergic, for one thing. And it’s been much too expensive for most of my life. I’d rather buy music. Or cookies.

  2. Hi Barb…hope you can handle it ok. That fresh Tug Hill air should help. I remember Bull Durham. When we were kids on the farm we found an old cigarette roller in an abandoned house, and we rolled our cigs with Bull, clover leaves, cornsilk, and other stuff. All bad.

  3. This will keep you occupied for hours. It does for me.

    That pack of cigs should cost 78 cents today, according to the inflation calculator. Your monthly pay would be 769.65.

  4. tobacco must have a different inflation calculator. or maybe it is just the added taxes. army cigs did not include tax. have to get everyone hooked at a reasonable cost.

    • Not everything inflates at the same rate. When I went to college the tuition was $700/year with an additional $350/per semester for room and board. My parents paid for the first year. After that we fell on hard times and I could get no more help from them. I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship and was able to earn the rest with a 6 weeks factory job of 12-hour shifts in the summer. I made minimum wage, $1.00/ hour, with a night differential of 13 cents. After I left, the union sent me an additional few cents per hour that had been negotiated retroactively. Yes, I was a Teamster. Now tuition at that school is some $47,000/year with an additional 10,000 for books and fees, and room and board. When I graduated I had a student loan debt of $673.00.
      I don’t know where you get the monthly income figure, since I didn’t list what it was then, but I do know the tuition and the cigarettes have gone up way more than the minimum wage.
      The tobacco companies and all sorts of other organizations used to give free cigarettes to the military. There were little packs with four cigs in each one. Support Our Troops!

  5. Barb-that was my monthly army pay in 1959, $99. Of course they also gave me free room & board and clothing, so it would have been more. Seems I always had money to travel and buy beer and smokes.

  6. I bet the army pay is higher than $769.65 per month today!

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