Looking forward to the future of journalism

Daily Diversion: Satisfy your smoke hunger


Check out this Chesterfield Cigarette ad published in the San Antonio Express newspaper in 1919:

Chesterfields satisfy your smoke-hunger just as a drink of cold water satisfies your thirst. They go straight to your smoke-spot.

Anita Baca, a photo editor at the Express-News, brought in a gigantic volume of aged, crinkly newspapers from 1919. The articles were interesting — lots of headlines about U.S. troops engaging Mexican forces on the border. But I was drawn to the ads. They offered a taste of what it was like to live in the old days. For 10 cents, you could buy a pack of cigs to satisfy your “smoke hunger.”

Read more: The power of long-form journalism in the Cameron Todd Willingham arson case

Ten cents sounds cheap — and it is. In today’s dollars, that’s about $1.20 adjusted for inflation, which is way less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes today with all the taxes tacked onto it. It gives you an idea of how prevalent and cheap smoking was in the good old days, before they knew what was causing “smoke hunger.”