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The first time I bought my own pack of cigarettes


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Old 08-26-2016, 02:50 PM
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Default The first time I bought my own pack of cigarettes

Another story time. To clarify, this wasn't exactly the first time I bought my own pack of cigarettes, but it was the first time I did so without the aid of someone else and without a store who had a reputation for not ID'ing.

So, the story begins when I'm around 17 years old. My smoking habit had been inching closer and closer to a daily thing. For the past couple of years, I had either gotten my cigarettes by stealing some from my parents, by having my best friend's mom buy them for me, or usually by going to a particular store a few minutes from my school that everyone knew would sell to anyone regardless of age.

Unfortunately for me, that store went out of business. Wasn't really surprising. It always seemed to me and my friends that it only stayed in business purely because it sold cigarettes and beer without asking any questions. We wondered if they got in trouble for doing so, but we had a few people tell us that it was just an ordinary case of a business going under.

And that really sucked for me. I was only a few months from being 18 and had always assumed I'd be able to go to that store until I was of legal age. Now I was in a bit of predicament. If I was lucky, I'd be in a position for my friend's mom to buy me cigarettes MAYBE once a week. Otherwise, I was relegated to stealing my parent's cigarettes, which I had since grown to dislike after being introduced to and experimenting with various other, more quality brands (such as Benson and Hedges Gold). While it was nice to have that fallback, I couldn't imagine waiting several months before being able to consistently get whichever brand I wanted.

So I formulated a plan. There was a tobacco store only a few minutes from my house. It had been in business for as long as I could remember, as my parents often went there to get their cigarettes. I knew that it was apparently owned and operated by a slightly-older-than-middle aged married couple even though I only ever saw the wife in the store. I had never spoken or met either of them, obviously, as I was too young to go into the store, but watching from the car, the woman always seemed to have a smile on her face and always seemed very friendly. I noticed that she always seemed to be smoking when she was behind the counter; probably a nice perk of the job when you run a tobacco store, I'd think.

Since I was SOL if I didn't at least give it a shot, I decided to see if I could maybe predispose her into believing I was 18 without showing my ID. Having ridden in the car with my parents when they visited the store for cigarettes, I knew business typically slowed down for them A LOT around early evening. Since I still had a few Benson and Hedges leftover, I spent the next couple of days conveniently stopping by the store whenever I went to pick up some dinner and lighting up a cigarette just outside the door, finishing the cigarette before getting back into my car. The idea was to have her notice me smoking openly and comfortably so she would just assume I was of age.

So, the time came. That Friday evening, I stopped by the store, mustered up some courage, and gave it a shot. I was nervous, as I had only attempted to buy cigarettes from the aforementioned store well after it had been known to sell to anyone and everyone, so I had no idea if my plan would work. I feared embarrassment if it didn't.

I walked in the store, smile on my face, and briskly walked up to the counter. The woman greeted me warmly, that same smile comforting me ever so slightly, and she asked what brand I smoked. Since I wanted to present myself as an experienced, veteran smoker, I kind of drew it out. I told her I smoked Marlboros typically, but I was interested in branching out that day. Truth be told, I planned on getting B&H all along, but I figured I stood a better chance of pulling this off if I didn't appear to be in a rush.

She stepped back and motioned to various cigarette brands as she made a few recommendations. Eventually I stopped her and asked about the "gold packs." She said those were Benson and Hedges -- a strong and quality cigarette, but expensive. Then she said, "I'm not sure if a young fella like yourself would like those." For whatever reason, I got more nervous when she said that, fearing that maybe she was figuring out my ruse. But I maintained composure as best I could. I asked if they allowed customers to try a cigarette before buying a pack. She replied, saying that although she always thought that'd be a good idea, it just wasn't practical for business. Undeterred, I told her I'd take the dive and try the Benson and Hedges.

She rang me up, and I was considerably nervous that she'd ask to see my ID. When she told me my total, I pulled out my wallet and some cash, I noticed for the first time that my hand was shaking ever so slightly. I saw her notice it as well, but she merely smirked without saying a word. She handed me the pack and said I was free to smoke in the store if I wanted to try one before leaving. Wanting to maintain my appearance for potential future trips to this store, I went along with her suggestion. I got the cellophane off the pack, hand still shaking a little bit, extracted a cigarette and placed it between my lips as I dug around my pockets for a lighter.

The woman quickly offered me her own lighter. I took it and struggled to get the flame going. Unfortunately, this really highlighted my shaking hand. I suppose she had to say something at this point. She took the lighter from me and flicked it to life, lighting the cigarette for me. "Hon, either you really need a cigarette or something's on your mind." She chuckled as she said it.

I exhaled my first puff absent mindedly and the smoke wafted towards her. I apologized while waving my hand through the air. "I work in a cigarette store, hon, and I smoke all day. I don't mind." She lit up a cigarette of her own. I commented that I really enjoyed the B&H a whole lot, and that's when she hit me with, "I figured you would. I saw you standing out there smoking 'em the other day."

I tried to feign disbelief as I exhaled another stream of smoke, but it didn't get me anywhere. She said, "I'm only going to assume you're 18, hon, but I've been working here a long time and I've seen it all. I started smoking around your age and my son and daughter did as well, so I know how it is. If you smoke, you smoke, but if you ain't 18 yet, do me a favor and only come here for cigarettes when we don't have any other customers." She spoke seriously, but that smile on her face put me at ease a good bit, and she spoke warmly enough. I chuckled nervously and agreed to her terms. Basically, she'd sell me cigarettes without asking questions so long as no one else was in the store.

From that day forward, I'd go get my cigarettes from that store. There were quite a few times when I had to turn around as people bustled in and out, and I didn't want to do anything to violate the very generous "agreement," we had made. I passed by the store most days regardless, as it was on my way home from school and was also located next to a bunch of restaurants I'd sometimes go to for lunch or dinner. Sometimes I'd have a cigarette outside the door and she'd wave me in if the "coast was clear," so to speak.

To this day, I still go by that store from time to time, though much more rarely since I live nowhere near it any longer. The woman always recognizes me and occasionally has a bit of fun with me by "demanding" to see my ID before she sells me the cigarettes. If it's a slow day, we'll sometimes shoot the shit over a couple of smokes.

Interested to read other people's stories!
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Old 08-26-2016, 08:43 PM
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I really enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing it with us

I bought my first pack at 17 also, though I smoked only occasionally, and that pack was actually for my girlfriend. I was rather popular in my neighbourhood and at school, having played several sports and been active in groups both at school and church, so I did not have an issue with the purchase since the cashier knew me. She was surprised that I asked for smokes, but served me without hesitation. It would be years later that I would buy my next pack.

The next time around I was over drinking age, so not much of a story there either.

lol thx again and take care
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:27 PM
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I also enjoyed your story. Here's mine:

I got my first pack from a vending machine in a supermarket that was within walking distance of home, maybe 1/2 mile, when I was 13. It was a result of finally working up the nerve to go through with something I had wanted to do for over a year. I had to keep my resolve to walk into that supermarket, where there were a few vending machines opposite the check-out lines, and then march up to the vending machine, concerned about whether some adult would stop me (or even worse, whether someone who knew me might see what I was doing), focusing all my attention on my goal, standing there dropping the coins into the coin slot (I knew it was sixty cents, so I made sure I had the exact change before I left home), pulling the lever for Salem Kings, took the pack from the machine and headed for the door steadily and as coolly as possible ... all the while my heart was thumping, my hair must have been standing on end, or at least it felt that way, and feeling a lump in my throat, all from nervous excitement, but also from the thrill that I was actually going through with it (being a "bad boy," perhaps?) and getting away with it. About a block away, on the opposite side of the street, was a large park where I went to open the pack and smoke my first cigarette ... again with all the nervous but thrilling, maybe even triumphant, feelings -- my veins must have already been coursing with adrenaline when I lit up the cigarette, before even taking the first drag. I loved it. Each time thereafter I became more confident, till I came to the point a few months later, shortly after turning 14, for the next test of my resolve (another adrenaline-pumping experience): going to a convenience store a couple of blocks down the street from the supermarket, heading straight to the counter, and telling the clerk the cigarettes I wanted, then paying for it, taking the pack and the matches, and opening the pack to light up right after I got out the door. Although I was 14, I was never asked for ID or refused the purchase (the "legal" age was 16, but it wasn't enforced anywhere). That convenience store remained the place where I usually bought my cigarettes until I went away to college.

Last edited by masklofumanto; 08-26-2016 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:38 PM
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Awesome to hear, mask! Thx for sharing. I bet it was awesome when there were vending machines that sold smokes. I have gotten to buy 1 pack out of a vending machine when I was travelling. It was pretty fun lol
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by L337 NUB View Post
Awesome to hear, mask! Thx for sharing. I bet it was awesome when there were vending machines that sold smokes. I have gotten to buy 1 pack out of a vending machine when I was travelling. It was pretty fun lol
Where was that?! I thought they were all gone by now. I guess it must have felt like a blast from the past.

Back then, all the cigarettes in the vending machines, regardless of brand and style (and you'd be surprised at how many brands were available), were the same price.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:59 PM
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It was actually in a metalworks facility. Only 18+ were allowed in the building for insurance reasons, and I was fortunate enough to spot it only a few weeks before they took it down. I was in sales at the time and just happened in. When I saw the machine (in a secure break area) I requested to go back there and that was that. It was fun. Cigarette vending machines were before my time, so yeah it was awesome.


And yeah, they were all the same price as I recall.
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Old 08-26-2016, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by AllWhiteSmoke View Post
Since I still had a few Benson and Hedges leftover . . . I wanted to present myself as an experienced, veteran smoker, I kind of drew it out. I told her I smoked Marlboros typically, but I was interested in branching out that day. Truth be told, I planned on getting B&H all along, but I figured I stood a better chance of pulling this off if I didn't appear to be in a rush. She stepped back and motioned to various cigarette brands as she made a few recommendations. Eventually I stopped her and asked about the "gold packs." She said those were Benson and Hedges -- a strong and quality cigarette, but expensive. Then she said, "I'm not sure if a young fella like yourself would like those." I commented that I really enjoyed the B&H a whole lot, and that's when she hit me with, "I figured you would. I saw you standing out there smoking 'em the other day."
Benson & Hedges Premium Filters are a great cigarette. It might interest you to know that it's only the American Benson & Hedges, made by Philip Morris, that only come in 100s. British Benson & Hedges, which has long been one of the leading brands in Great Britain, are available in king-size as well as "superkings" (which is what they call 100s). Also, the full-flavor is called "Special Filter" rather than "Premium Filter." The British B&H aren't quite the same as the American ... I can't quite put my finger on the difference, as they are similar, but there is a difference. And unless the pack design has changed since I was last in England, the packs were also all gold (even the menthol pack is all gold). Oh, another difference is that the British B&H cigarettes have a cork-colored filter, rather than a white one.


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Old 08-27-2016, 10:05 AM
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I can't remember the first time I bought a pack and "got away with it", but when I was around 13 I lived in a very small town of 400 people. The only store/gas station is where everybody got their smokes. The nearest real town was about 10 miles away ( where I live now ) anyway:

The lady that owned the place would let the kids buy for their parents. Times have changed huh? Well, instead of stealing my moms nasty tareyton smokes, or dads even worse Barclay, I decided to tell her that mom wanted Marlboro. She believed me... Or so I thought. Once I got home I found out she called my mother to inquire about the brand change.... Busted!

Later, after I started driving, I found out that just about any drive thru store would sell without problems as long as you didn't walk in.

Beer was easy as well. A store called Gabbys would sell to anyone who had enough cash to buy. They were busted eventually and paid a hefty fine, but it was after i turned 21. They're still open and sell the best Stromboli around

Times have changed, but I see young kids smoking from time to time. I've always wondered where they got them. I've had a couple ask to bum a smoke. I gave one when the ( probably 16 year old )kid asked when nobody else was around. The other kid ( 16-17 )had the balls to ask outside of the local supermarket. "Ummm. I'm not going to jail or paying a fine for giving kids cigarettes" is what I told him.
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Old 08-27-2016, 02:00 PM
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I finally mustered up the courage to go in to a local corner shop where I had seen many more school kids exit with cigs,I simply asked for 20 John player special and was handed them with no problems.Never really bothered me buying after that first packet as nowhere ever bothered to ask about age or ID.I would have been13-14.

This next buying story took even more courage than the first.

Shortly after my mum had indicated she knew I was smoking by replacing an old tin (makeshift ashtray) with a proper ashtray in my bedroom,although nothing had been said.Well I walked to our local village shop with her and she got a basket full of shopping and 20 JPS (her brand too) and paid.As she turned from the till I asked the cashier for 20 JPS and she (mum) just gave me a "look" as I paid for them,and again nothing was said.At least I now knew it was don't ask don't tell policy for now.I think I would have been mid 14 by this time.
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Old 08-27-2016, 04:00 PM
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I never got busted, though there were a couple of close calls. My parents, or at least my mother, suspected but didn't know for sure. After I had "graduated" from irregular to regular smoking, I think the situation was "don't ask, don't tell." I was a little older, in high school, and working a part-time job, so that might have made the difference. I brought the "don't ask, don't tell" to an end myself when I told my mother about it the day I got my driver's license. I figured that if I was old enough to drive, how could she tell me that I wasn't old enough to smoke? Given that she took the news better than I expected, I don't believe she was surprised, even though she certainly wasn't happy about it either. It was a relief to be out in the open with my parents and they got used to it right away. Looking back, I probably could have told my parents at least a year earlier (legal age to buy cigarettes then was 16; the driving age was 17).

I never tried to buy beer or any other alcohol while I was still in high school. I didn't like beer back then, so even at parties I didn't drink much. The legal age to buy alcohol was raised from 18 to 21 the very year I turned 18. At college in Pennsylvania the legal drinking age was 21, but I went to bars and was never asked for ID. In fact, I have to chuckle--the first time I was ever asked for ID when buying alcohol was when I was already well into my forties, as if there was any doubt that I wasn't well over 21!

Last edited by masklofumanto; 08-27-2016 at 04:11 PM.
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