Reading a contribution from Kit Wells this morning and the mention of 'Guardsmen' for some reason reminded me of Guards cigarettes. I recall the packet design very well with the red and black logo and the guardsman printed on the red 'body underneath.

Come to think of it there were loads of cigarette brands around at the time and I, as a young lad used to collect the empty packets as a kind of hobby.

Does anyone recall their 'first time' with a ciggy and which brand they opted for. My first was when I was about fifteen and my mum smoked Players No.6. I recall pinching one from her packet and lighting up at the bottom of the backyard. I choked on the first draw and a few seconds later feeling incredibly 'high' ! That feeling soon wore off unfortunately and needless to say from that moment my mums as well as my brothers ciggies were not safe ! My first regular brand was Embassy (for the coupons) and then Rothmans when my then girlfriend smoked them and it just seemed easier to smoke the same brand. One girlfriend actually smoked Picadilly which was a real pain especially at night when trying to find a seller or machine of that noble brand.

It's amazing just how many different brands used to be available in the '60s & '70s only to have bitten the dust over the decades. Just thinking about it for a couple of seconds did make me wonder if anyone actually used brands like State Express, Craven A or Guards et al ?

My late wife's auntie is from the West Coast (Mallaig) and is one tough cookie. Married to a very abusive hubby from the East Coast who was a drunken wifebeater. She worked on the fishwharf gutting fish when she arrived in Yarmouth in the '50s so not a weakling. She smokes at least a packet of Capstan Full strength daily and even a triple bypass fifteen years ago didn't deter her. She's now in her mid eighties and as fit as a fiddle !

I gave up 16 years ago come a couple of months time. Went to the doctor with a chest thing, she told me to stop puffing, I left her surgery, crumpled my packet into a bin on the way to my car and have never touched a smoke since. Nonetheless, no doubt you are right and the years of abuse were on my ticker's account until it decided to nearly go on permanent strike.

That's probably why the 'ticker' isn't too amused nowadays !!!

I think I must have been about 14. We had a session at a friend's house when his parents were away for the weekend and his big bro was in charge - but went to the pub. Half a dozen of us had in beer and one bloke smoked Senior Service. I don't actually remember smoking one but that two years later I was on a school exchange to St Emilion where I had my first Gauloise, non-filter type, which I then smoked for roughly 35 years with exception of when I was in Germany and couldn't get hold of them I smoked Roth-Händle instead, roughly the same strength black tobacco that smelled like a garden incinerator with a lot of garbage added to the weeds. Most of the time about 40 a day, so the first choker really doesn't seem to have stuck in my memory.

You're not wrong Peter!

Sounds pretty desperate David !

no classic filter, Peter, not sure about a cork one, the latest craze are the mint or fruit capsules in the filter that you crush and they change the taste of the cigarette (Marisol Touraine wants to ban them, amongst other things!). The latest in the cigarillos are carbon filters, and we also have cigarillos with mint capsules...!

I smoked State Express 555 from time to time. Me and my friend would buy a packet of ten called "Passing Clouds" which contained two examples of five different cigarettes Turkish,Virginia etc we then split the packet. I seem to remember they were all equally vile.

Didn't or maybe still do, Craven A have some kind of a cork tip, or am I confusing brands ? And do the Gitane maize paper ciggies still exist Andrew ?

Craven A still exist, Peter, I stock them and have a few customers for them - they attract bizarre people/bizarre people smoke them! Ha ha, I started on player's N°6 too! 1637 are a local SW tobacco and not bad...! Having said that, I'm not the only buraliste who hardly smokes.