When I was a kid tobacco was very much a part of life. Men smoked everywhere except in church. There were ash trays everywhere. There were fancy, small ashtrays set on flat surfaces all over one's house. Some ashtrays were manufactured that sat on top of a leg post and set next to a chair. If there were no ash trays set out, men just used an empty tin can.
Some people found cigarettes a little expensive to buy, so they would purchase a metal contraption about 4 by 6 inches. A cigarate paper was placed at one end, tobacco poured on top then the machine was rolled and tah dah you had a cigerate. I know this because this was one of the jobs assigned to me by my brother.
During the school year my grade school friends and I would always walk downtown to buy candy or an ice cream cone. There were no scheduled activities during the noon hour at school, so we just wandered downtown. At the local grocery store you could buy candy cigarettes. These looked just like real cigarettes - white with one end in red. So on the way back to school we would suck on these and pretend to blow out smoke.
Cigars were also popular. My father preferred smoking these. On Sundays, when we would visit relatives, the women would sit in the kitchen and discuss cooking, baking and cleaning. I was usually the only kid as my parents were older when I was born - therefore the kids of the relatives were all grown up. Well, I did not care about listening to the women's topic of conversation, so I would go to the living room and crawl into my father's lap. I enjoyed listening to them "argue" about politics and religion. And I also loved the aroma of the cigars they were smoking. To this day if I meet a cigar smoker on the sidewalk I am tempted to turn around and follow him in order to enjoy that aroma.
Pipe smokers were also prevalent. But with this the smoker had to carry tobacco with him and quite often had to refill the pipe. This too had a pleasant aroma to it.
And then there was chewing tobacco - one of the most disgusting habits that were very popular among older men, but not always. This tobacco came in a tin container, a bit was pinched off and placed under the tongue. The user would then move it around the mouth and chew it, which then created the glands to produce moisture that could not be swallowed, but rather spit on the ground or into a spittoon. Many public places placed these spittoons around the area for this purpose. At our house we couldn't afford a spittoon so my dad used tin cans. Not a very decorative object in our formal living room, but a necessity.
In the 1950s and 1960s women were encouraged to smoke. Magazine ads would show a beautiful and/or famous actress smoking - which seemed to appeal to women. I was introduced to smoking when attending college. Now, in the church college that I attended smoking was not allowed in the girl's dormitory, but that didn't stop some girls from opening the windows and leaning out and puffing away. While doing this you could wave at your friends who were also leaning out of their windows. Thankfully I never was caught up in this habit.
In those past years women did not work outside the home - those few who did were viewed as neglecting their children as well as their husbands. Days got long waiting for the "man" to return from work in order to have an adult conversation. Therefore, morning and afternoon coffee parties were very highly attended in the immediate neighborhood or with friends across town. If you were lucky you got invited to two coffee parties per day. Coffee was served in china cups with saucers - which today are quite valuable if found in antique stores. By now most women smoked. I will never forget one of my daughters who went around to all the ladies gathered in our living room who were smoking, and said to them: "Please don't put your cigarette butts in the saucer because my little sister eats them."
Thankfully, as time went on we were told how bad smoking was for our bodies. It was and still is, extremely difficult for people to stop this nasty habit.