How to Light a Cigarette

the gentleman lightsQ Dear Miss Abigail:

What is the proper etiquette for lighting someone else’s cigarette? A friend of mine said if you’re using a lighter you light their’s first and your’s next, but if you’re using matches you light your’s first because of the sulfury taste of matches. I though you always light their’s first, but if you use a match you should hold it away until it quits sparkling. Also, do you bring the flame to the cigarette or hold it still and let the cigarette come to it?

Smoker in Northwest

A Dear Smoker:

Darling, I have consulted a variety of decades in order to address your question. I have found that, even as far back as 1945, smoking was and is considered a nasty, nasty habit, one which you should quit immediately in order to maintain your health and well-being. Put down those lighters! Put down those cigarettes! Don’t aid a friend’s addiction by lighting their “instrument of death” for them! That said, I relay the following words about smoking, directly from the voices of those respected and wise etiquette advisors.

1945: Striking a Match

Striking a match directly at someone ~ most often outdoors and “with the wind” ~ belongs in the category with a pointed gun, should the head of the match fly off and land ~ or sparks blow ~ on a woman’s inflammable dress.

Source: Post, Emily. Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company,1945.
~ p. 446 ~

1957: Tobacco is a Nasty Weed

Smoking is very common that not smoking may make one feel odd or peculiarn . . . . When a cigarette is offered a girl may simply smile and say, “No, thank you.” No elaborate explanation is necessary. She does not have to say that she does not smoke, or that she feels that smoking is an unpleasant habit. In fact, the less said about it the better. She can turn the conversation in another direction at the same time that she refuses the smoke, for the cigarette itself is something not very important.

Jerry carries a roll of candy mints in his pocket. Whenever he is with a group in which cigarettes are passed, he refuses the smoke at the same time that he offers his mints to the members of the group. He finds that he can be just as sociable with his little lifesavers as the other fellows are with their smokes. In fact, he has been pleasantly surprised to find that other boys and girls often seem grateful for the mint in such a situation.

Tobacco is habit forming. Once one has begun to smoke, he finds that he has to continue. Without a cigarette, one feels restless, his head aches, he “just can’t wait for a smoke.” This is what led one young man to observe wryly:

Tobacco is a nasty weed, I love it;
Tobacco is an expensive habit, I love it;
Tobacco is a messy practice, I love it;
Tobacco is a social crutch, I love it;
Tobacco is my master, I love it!

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Popular Library/National Board of Young Men’s Christian Associations, 1957.
~ pp. 222-224 ~

1963: “Do You Mind?”

We do not light a cigarette in the presence of one who does not smoke without first asking, “Do you mind?” Smoke really makes some people ill, you know. The gentleman lights the girl’s cigarette first. If he does not smoke, we hand him our lighter. Never do we talk with a cigarette in the mouth, allow it to remain lighted in a tray while eating, or do we use anything as an ashtray that was not meant to be one. And, no matter if “Mrs. Blueblood” smokes on a city street, we should not if we do not want to appear as a coarse woman.

Source: Culkin, Anne. Charm for Young Women. New York: Deus Books, 1963.
~p. 134~

1963: How to Be More Feminine

Expect to have you cigarette lighted.

Source: Brown, Helen Gurley. Sex and the Single Girl. New York: Giant Cardinal/Pocket Books, Inc.,1963.
~ p. 77 ~