Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Drinking and Drugs - Cigarettes and Cigars

cartoon/advertisement from Pick Me Up, 1891

see also Grant Richards' Memories of a Misspent Youth, 1932 - click here

see also Tempted London - click here

The habit of smoking in the dining-room has invaded all classes. Directly the ladies have left the dining-room, the silver cigarette-box and the dainty spirit lamp wherewith to light it are passed round. Ladies encourage and imitate the habit, and, being always anxious to please, willingly learn to take a puff at the odorous weed themselves. This condescension on their part has insensibly resulted in an acquired taste that bids fair to rival the habits of men. A lurid fact which invests matrimony with fresh terrors! Only think of the expense of smoking for a couple! Think of the disadvantage under which a poor woman will lie, who can no longer reproach her spouse with his abominable extravagance in cigars! Think of the disappointment of the ardent lover when, pressing the lips of his adored one, he finds upon them the flavour of an inferior quality of tobacco! Ladies will surely not stop short at cigarettes; they will require shilling cigars, until eventually, perhaps, they may, from motives of economy, even take to the 'churchwarden'. The mysteries of back-hair-brushing conclaves in the silence and seclusion of the night will be aggravated by the smell of tobacco issuing through the keyhole and under the door, while the dear girls themselves gravely discuss the respective merits of 'Bird's-eye', 'Cavendish', 'Turkish Latakia', and 'Irish Twist'. A man will hand his partner a cigarette as naturally as an ice, and the first present of the happy bridegroom must consist of a cigarette-case and a match-box!

Lady Greville, The Gentlewoman in Society, 1892

A plumber's assistant came yesterday morning to repair a leaking drain pipe. I noticed that he smoked many cigarettes. I mentioned this later to Mayo Gunn, who was manager of the St. James's Gazette, but has now joined his relatives, the Wills, of Bristol, in the tobacco business. He says working men are taking more and more to cigarettes, which are so much cheaper since the introduction of machinery. A man named Bernhard Baron [late head of Carreras] brought over a machine a few years ago and he turns out thousands per hour. He is likely to make a fortune.

R.D.Blumenfeld's Diary, October 28, 1900

I remember going to Vienna about ten years ago to be shocked at the sight of several women smoking cigars. We appear to be progressing towards that end here. After dinner last night at the Carlton I saw four women in the lounge smoking cigarettes quite unconcernedly. One of them had a golden case, and she was what is called a chain smoker. Dr. Gunton, who was with me, told me that most women now smoke at home. "That's what makes them so nervy," he said, " but when I tax them with over-smoking they nearly always deny it."

R.D.Blumenfeld's Diary, December 10, 1901