The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, May 20, 2004  

Time to Give it Up

Scared you, didn’t I? The quitting, giving it up thing, I mean.

Don’t worry: I’m talking about smoking, not blogging.

I’ve really got to quit smoking. Not only is this despicable habit insane from a health perspective, what the hell is a man in my financial situation doing smoking? (Though, if I might brag, at half the rate of just three months ago.)

I’m on my way, though: I’ve switched from my regular brand, Benson & Hedges (“gold,” i.e., full flavor, with maximum “tar” and nicotine), to Pall Mall Lights.

For years friends have mocked me for smoking Bensons. “Old lady cigarette,” they call it. I disagree on several grounds, but more important, to me at least, I’ve tried dozens of brands and this is the one I like best and by a long shot. Deal with it.

Pall Mall Lights are another story. Pall Mall is an old name in the tobacco business. My parents, both of whom quit years ago, smoked Pall Mall “Reds.” No surprise: My first cigarette was a Pall Mall Red. Unfiltered. Unrestrained. They’re actually quite good.

More recently, however, Lorillard Tobacco Co., the maker of Pall Mall cigarettes, repositioned and extended the brand to include various light and menthol options, including my new companion, widely referred to as “Pall Mall Blues.”

One of Lorillard’s marketing schemes for the new Pall Mall varieties is that the tobacco burns more slowly. And do you know what? For once, a tobacco company is telling the truth. Pall Mall Blues really do burn more slowly than other cigarettes.

That’s all really interesting and everything, but more important to me, if I shop around I can find Pall Mall Blues retailing for about $2.25 a pack (three-for-twos, etc.), compared with $4.75 to $5.25 for a pack of Benson & Hedges, which are never discounted.

Even “better,” I really don’t care for the taste of Pall Mall Blues. In fact I actively dislike the taste. But that’s a good thing. If I hate the cigarettes I’m smoking I figure I’m more likely to quit sooner rather than later.

I’ll keep you posted.

[Post-publication addendum (May 22): While we’re on the subject, don’t miss Charles Eichner’s recent essay at Disinfotainment on smoking in Japan, “The Smokatorium.”]

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