Have you ever measured how much time you need to smoke a cigarette? For a todays cigarette you need around 3 and a half minutes. In the 1970's it took you around 10 minutes to smoke a cigarette. On the right side you can see an advertisment from 1955 for Churchman's No.1 cigarettes telling you that you need 15 minutes to smoke them.
The reason lies in the amount of tobacco which gets constantly reduced. In the meantime we have reached a point where it is impossible to smoke a cigarette without loosing ash particles even when you tip your cigarette after each puff at the ashtray. In the 1970's it was still possible to smoke a whole cigarette without the help of an ashtray if you have been careful with the movements of your hand.

Have you seen the film "The 5th element" with Bruce Willis playing a smoking taxi driver in the far future? The cigarettes he's smoking looking ridiculous since two-thirds of them are the filter. But in truth, regarding the white part of the cigarette we have this situation already - but hidden. If you compress the tobacco of a todays cigarette to get a properly filled cigarette you will end up with approximately this shown length.

There are 3 main reasons why it came to that point:

1. Tobacco plant farmers develop constantly new plants with higher nicotine concentration. These plants are already toxic for the field workers and they have to use protective clothing when getting in contact with them. The reasons for this development are on one side to get a better ratio between tar and nicotine and on the other side to maximize the profit since you need less tobacco to reach the same nicotine values.

2. The WHO puts much pressure to all countries around the globe to force them to reduce constantly the allowed maximum of tar and nicotine at cigarettes. Since filter technology has made no major development steps since they got introduced, the only practicable solution is the reduction of the amount of tobacco.

3. These 2 opposing trends would logically lead to shorter and/or smaller cigarettes. But there's the next problem - consumers do not accept cigarettes shorter than "King Size". In 2006 Bulgartabac launched a "honest" cigarette called "just short" which had the same tar and nicotine values like a "Marlboro Gold" - but properly filled. It disappeared soon because of lacking demand.


Usually US brands have printed somewhere the words "CLASS A" and most people believe that this means it is a 1st quality product. But in fact this is a declaration for the amount of tobacco used for one cigarette. And "CLASS A" means that the cigarette contains a low amount of tobacco. Today there are only "CLASS A" cigarettes, but in the past the most expensive cigarettes have been "CLASS B" cigarettes.


In the 1970's a new business idea got established - using famous labels for cigarette brands. The World Health Organisation reacted soon and worked hard for several decades to establish a worlwide ban against this practice. The indisputable master of this practice was the South African billionaire Anton Rupert who created in the second half of the 20th century the ROTHMANS enterprise. He pulled off an unprecedented shopping spree around the globe by buying every famous label he could get. After buying ALFRED DUNHILL OF LONDON he established a cigarette brand with this name - and he even used the royal warrant at the cigarettes which the company received in 1927 for it's pipe tobacco blends. But most DUNHILL smokers believed that Queen Elisabeth herself smokes these cigarettes. The brand is still a case of many lawsuits since DUNHILL always produced pipe tobaccos besides other luxury accessories. After buying the jeweler CARTIER, Rothmans created as well cigarettes under this name. This was a quite clear case for the WHO and the brand disappeared in the meantime.

Here a few examples:


You may have noticed that I do not have an own section for illegal packs. Generally there are several reasons why a pack is illegal.

1. It might be a correctly produced pack which got smuggled into the country where it got sold.
2. But it could be as well a pack produced by an illegal company. In this case it could be
2a. a fake of a premum brand or
2b. it could be a fantasy brand.
3. And there are as well packs which got produced by private persons to fool collectors.

But in all cases the vendor will pay no duty to his fiscal authorities. And in most cases the pack has been produced for Duty Free shops. So there are two good reasons why I integrated them into the "Duty Free" section.

case 1

At countries with corrupt executive (mainly Africa, Middle East, South America, South Asia) you will find many illegal imported packs at tobacco shops.
On the right you can see the typical offering of an Egyptian tobacco shop. The only legal packs are the ones with pictured health warnings.

At countries with functioning executive you will find the same packs, but offered by private persons. An interesting example: Shortly after introducing the "plain packs" at Australia, an illegal imported brand called MANCHESTER became the best selling brand in the country. The pack gives you the impression that it comes from the United Kingdom, it has a small health warning at the side only and gets in fact produced at the United Arab Emirates.

case 2a

It's useless to show pictures. They look exactly like the original ones.

case 2b

On the right a small selection of them.

case 3

On the right a small selection of them.


Many smaller cigarette producers are using letterbox companies for several reasons. The bigger companies don't need to do so because they have companies around the globe anyway.
Here some reasons:

1. If a company (mainly companies from United Arab Emirates and Russia) wants the consumer to believe that the cigarettes are coming from a specific country, they install at this country (mainly UK and USA) a letterbox company and at the cigarette pack they print only MADE UNDER AUTHORITY OF / MADE UNDER SUPERVISION OF / MADE UNDER AGREEMENT WITH TRADEMARK OWNER followed by the name of the letterbox company and the country where this company is installed without saying who produced the cigarettes.

2. Since these letterbox companies are holding the trademark rights it's very easy to transfer any amount of money to their bank accounts by declaring it as a license fee for the trademark rights.

3. Sometimes the cigarette producer wants to buy a history for his brand. In this case they buy for example an old and no longer active company name at London. Then they use this company name as the brand name of their cigarettes and print in big letters on the pack LONDON, SINCE 1903


Trademark rights usually expire 20 years after last production. In some cases the producers want to keep the trademark rights even after this 20 years. Therefore they produce and sell every 20 years a small charge of such brands. In most cases these packs use a very simple design which isn't really interesting. But since these are very rare packs they present an own range of collectibles.
Here a few samples: