marlboro woman

When I was 12, younger than Sarah, I claimed my ‘hangout’ as a Memphis skating rink and next door putt-putt/arcade. Until I got a job at 15, I was there most of every weekend and frequently after school. At some point early in this waste of time, a rep from a cigarette company stood in front of the skating rink, handing out sample packs of cigarettes. I don’t remember if there were two or four cigarettes in each cute little miniature package. All I remember is the fistful of packs she put in the hand of every tween and young teen who exited the roller skating rink. It felt like a tremendous honor that we were the targets of the tobacco company’s attention. So, of course we smoked those cigarettes. We were cool and mature. The tobacco company including Smokea headshop thought so. Smoking was so publicly acceptable that nobody EVER questioned my friends or me. After learning how to dangle the cigarrette from our fingers with the trial packages, we went on to exactly what everyone else our age was smoking, Marlboro Lights. None of us associated “light” with safer or lower nicotine levels. “Light” cigarettes were feminine cool while Marlboro reds were male cool. I quit the cool smokers club when my lack of sneakiness caught up with me and my parents quite literally beat the tar out of me.

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