>When I were a lad, and everyone was smoking, there was a very distinct level of one-upmanship going on in every aspect of, what we considered, a pastime.

People who purposefully smoked Lambert & Butler, when they could afford better cigarettes were derided as cheapskates who just didn’t take it seriously enough. However, if you knew someone who was on their uppers and smoked Lamberts then you afforded them quiet respect, because they could always drop to a lower level, like Sky or More, but you both knew they didn’t like it, so you didn’t say anything.
Often however the Lambert smoker was such a heavy smoker that their finances, whilst not in peril, couldn’t quite keep up with their fagging. This too would be frowned upon.

Regal and Embassy were the odd couple because, although intrinsically the same fag, from the same stable, they were and are worlds apart. Maybe because of the sponsorship backgrounds they had in the past. Embassy sponsored F1 and Snooker. Not sure about Regal. Everyone I knew did, or would, smoke Embassy. No-one smoked Regal. No-one. I always thought they tasted the same, but this was debated.
We once tested a friend, who claimed he’d tell which was which easily, with a blindfold. We put a Regal in one hand and Lambert in the other and he happily declared it was an Embassy. How we laughed. We didn’t do a lot back then.

I smoked Embassy for years. Years and years. And I was proud to. It was a cool packet, with Embassy points to be collected. I had bundles of them (collected from the pavements too) and even ordered a catalogue once. Never ordered anything though. I wonder if anyone ever did.
It was a late switch to Marlboro Lights that ended the affair and I never went back. I regret it now that I think about it.

Marlboro Lights were the cigarettes of supermodels, Hoxton wankers and general celebrity. I really can’t say why I smoked them, other than that they were sub-consciously marketed through people you saw photos of in magazines. We’d call it viral marketing now, but that was something for the future. I’m sure that Marley Lights became cheesier over time as I really went off of them and actually returned, late in my career, back towards my first smoking love, B&H.

Benson & Hedges are a hard smoke. Always were and always will be. The first cigarette I ever smoked was a B&H and I didn’t like it. Smoked the lot though, 10 of them, in pretty much one go. Consciously walked miles out my way to buy and smoke them. I can’t remember why, but I think it was to do with a break-up. Anyway, I smoked them for years and it was probably why I spent a while on other hard fags. Because I wasn’t scared of them.

Intermittently tried out between the Embassy and Marlboro Light phases, which really bookend my smoking life, were Camels, Camel Lights, Rothmans (foul), Woodbine, Marlboro Reds, Park Lane, Gitanes, Gauloise (blue and blonde), Silk Cut and Silk Cut Ultra (what’s the point?) and God knows what else. The king of cigarettes though, that marks out my youth and the one that I saw every smoker I ever knew in possession of, is the Lambert Light.

I think that they’re called Lambert Gold now, which seems silly, but I think it’s a switch to establishing the Light as the key fag and the Silver (or, Original) as the secondary.

As already stated, the Lambert is a rank cigarette and not for smoking pleasurably. It was a bargain smoke, but not completely demeaning. I was never happy with 10 Lambert in my pocket. I don’t think I ever bought a pack of 20 in my life. But the Lambert Light was different. It established an extra thought process in buying them, it didn’t look like a default smoke, and it was actually nicer. You could use it for smoking other, er, things, if you did that kind of stuff. And you basically didn’t feel like cutting your own chest open with a trowel if you smoked three of them in a one-hour period. Unlike the Silvers.

Roll-ups are just not acceptable in polite company so I haven’t talked about them. If you’re skint or trying to make a point, then fine. But otherwise, shut up. They look nasty, smell bad, make your lips brown, stain your fingers, make a mess, involve too much paraphernalia and are uncouth.