Cheap Cigarettesby Johann M Smith and Steven Brand / 21.02.2011
“A cigarette is the perfect type of a pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?” – Oscar Wilde.
One that doesn’t cost an arm and a lung, we should think Oscar. It may have been an exquisite pleasure in the 1800’s but these days the cancer sticks are getting expensive, the bit about leaving you unsatisfied is still true.
15 years ago the ‘kasi smoker didn’t have anywhere to go when funds were low and nicotine cravings high. If you couldn’t pay British American Tobacco, RJ Reynolds et al. prices you were caught between a handful of loosies or as many rounds you could go with a packet of Boxer.
Since then, the borders have opened and a myriad of new faces are now to be found in ashtrays nationwide. Giving the chain-smoker a reason to rejoice and the taxman a cramp in the coffers.
Despite the influx of low-brow brands the price of established ones has sky rocketed. But a simple truth remains – something that’s common sense to the cheap cigarette cognoscenti: if you are willing to navigate your way cautiously through the often bewildering amount of choice available, you just might find a flavour and taste the same, but at a price much less insane.
This is the most obvious place to start because, even among non-smokers it is a name that has a reputation to boot. Though it may not have been the first, and is most certainly not the worst, it is the phenomena which is Discount Smokes. Notorious for “Not For Sale in South Africa” label, sold in both corner shops and reputable supermarkets (we’re talking to you Shoprite and Checkers). Pacific Blue is nobodies favourite cigarette. We know of many hardworking South African men, who would rather risk being caught on the train without a ticket than cross over to the bad tar side. It’s closest range in the full price range is Peter Stuyvesant Red, which sells loose for a rand fifty. Pacific for as cheap as 50c. The figures speak for themselves.
Price: R10 – R15
Nicotine: 1.4 mg
Tar: 14 mg
Yes, we’ve made the joke, smoking for Jesus. A habit that leads to Kingdom come. This recent edition to the pack, really comes as a godsend. Not that it offers anything new, both in the way of packaging and flavour. If anything, Kingdom at first glance threatens more of the same, under a less romantic and somewhat creepy name. But give it a chance, and you might find something that was lacking in the afore mentioned choice: Taste.
The taste that a Wilson toffee leaves in your mouth after you chewed it a half hour ago filtered through a Bedford exhaust pipe. It isn’t much but at least it is an alternative. To having your throat roasted by the angry flames from the afterburners of a jet engine.
Nicotine: 1.0 mg
Aspen Export Lights
Aspen Light is a side project of Japan Tobacco International – the folks who brought us Camel and mid-range alternative Liggett-Ducat (LD’s) from Russia. Strictly speaking it isn’t in the pirate range, more for those who prefer to keep their walk on the mild side. In short, it’s got a taste you know (and love), just less of it. Which serves you right for sitting on the fence. So either control your habit and savour the full taste of Camel, or take the plunge into mediocrity. You never know what might be waiting for you down there, beyond plaid and boredom.
Nicotine: 0, 7 mg
Tar: 8 mg
Atlanta is the unicorn in a sea full of dead donkeys. Because it is just that amazing. It is cut above, if not on par with the Marlboro’s and Lucky Strike’s of the world. It is most definitely a class above their half baked mid-price alternatives. And did we forget to mention the price?
When it comes to cheap cigarettes this is the holy grail and like its name sake, it’s a bitch to get into your hands on. A product of the UAE (Arabs know a good smoke), and illegally for sale in South Africa. But particularly well-connected Pakistani and Somali vendors can sort you out. If you manage to locate one (we could give you directions, but that would be a conflict of interest), please leave a carton or two for us. Canala?
Ones to avoid.
Admiral – Sailors are a masochistic bunch, dontcha think? Either that or they just have a preference for rough shag. No shame, one of us writing this article suffers from the same. But this one has a kick and a crunch that really takes you by surprise and from behind.
Mega 2.0 – who do they think they’re fooling with the fancy packaging of loose cigarettes? Keep it real. This brand knows what side of the N1 it belongs, but insists on living a lie (and the same goes for Sharp).
And if you ever come across…
Flying Horse – We picked this one up through the skid-row smokers grapevine. It’s worth tracking down just to see the packet. But going down to Germiston just to look for a silly smoke is a whim that even the most fanatical of cigarette spotters won’t indulge.
Pegasus – Tried this one recently for the first time. To be honest it’s a pleasant surprise; not quite on the level of Atlanta or Aspen, but a far trip from the Pacific-Kingdom ghetto. Would of bought a whole box if they had any to spare. Somebody must be on the same tip. But now that we think about, it may just be name behind the Flying horse alias. Which would be weird, but then again stranger things have occurred on the underground.
The fact is… cheap cigarettes are like tribute acts. They provide just as much fun, save you money, are not respected by reputable company and will perhaps stick around a while longer like bad Bryan Adams’ covers in questionable joints.