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The History Of Cigarette Holders

The idea of attaching a cigarette to a stem and a mouthpiece would be very alien to many smokers, and for non-smokers, the depiction of these holders will bring up images of flappers from the 1920s. These kinds of depictions demonstrate a time when holders for tobacco were a statement for fashion-conscious women, just as hats were for men at the very same time. While still popularly used in the 1970s around the world, the holder first gained popularity in the 18th century. Here it was used as a means to more easily consume tobacco odds and ends in an easy fashion. From then on, the holder saw a variety of uses – read on to learn a little more about how holders for tobacco came and went.

All fashion statement?

Tobacco holders now, and most of those dating from the 1960s and 1970s, were made of simple, functional plastic. This is very much unlike the holders of the early twentieth century, which could be made from rare metals like platinum, stone like jade, high quality wood, or even ivory and encrusted with jewels to transparently demonstrate wealth and class. Although the elongated nature of the cigarette holder ensured the eyes of passers-by were caught, especially when they were crafted from impressive silver or a very hard kind of plastic called Bakelite, they also served well in a functional sense. The holder would also act as a filter for the cigarette, as during the peak popularity of the holder, the filter for tobacco that we all recognise now had not yet been invented. Using the holder also helped smokers avoid the nasty nicotine stains on their fingers, which would have been a harsh contrast against their otherwise glamourous exterior. The holder also helped prevent staining of the teeth and cooled the smoke for a less-harsh taste.

Tobacco holders in popular culture

With holders an essential part of women’s fashion, there were undoubtedly many female Hollywood stars who made them even more popular. Hollywood stars of the mid-twentieth century, such as Lucille Ball, Jacqueline Kennedy, Rita Hayworth and Princess Margaret. There were also well-known men who used tobacco holders, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ian Fleming, Hunter S. Thompson and Tennessee Williams. Men’s tobacco holders often differ to women’s, however, by being much shorter. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of the most popular examples of a women using a tobacco holder – the picture in which Audrey Hepburn dangles her holder is assuredly iconic. More modern films playing close attention to historical detail, like James Cameron’s Titanic, also depict wealthier women using tobacco holders, as does the ever-popular show Man Men – even Johnny Depp dons a tobacco holder in Terry Gilliam’s zany film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas!

An interesting time for holders

Although tobacco holders to still exist, their lack of popularity among smokers relegates them to specialty stores. Even then you’re unlikely to find a jewel-encrusted jade holder, and more likely a very cheap and disposable holder multi-pack Although the glamour days of these holders is at an end, their depiction in popular media means they’ll not be soon forgotten as an interesting relic of the past. In the meantime, if you’ve ever been curious to know what it’s like to dangle a tobacco holder in your mouth for prolonged periods of time, you could always go to a costume party as a flapper or suave 60s business man!

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