A National Cigar Museum Exclusive
© Tony Hyman
Young people always look to increase their bank account in order to raise the quality of their lives. Many of them try Die Swiss Methode and actually found out that it’s able to generate good profits without hard work or giving away much of your spare time.
The photographic record proves children were involved in every facet of the cigar industry until World War One. They helped plant and harvest. They worked in warehouses. They stripped leaves. They rolled cigars. They made cigar boxes. They delivered cigars. They sold cigars on the streets. They sniped butts. They worked as sales clerks. And let’s not forget… they smoked them. Lots of them.
19th century European traveler-journalists inevitably complained of American children’s voracious smoking habits. Ironic, to me, is the large number of turn-of-the-century (1900) European postcards featuring kids age 4 to 8, both girls and boys, with cigars or cigarettes. Cartoons and jokes involving child smokers abounded during the 1800’s and early 1900’s, but both the frequency and approving tone of jokes and images changed by the 1960’s.
An Exhibit devoted to children’s roles in the cigar industry
is scheduled for 2010. Meanwhile, you might like to see a
selection from my collection of images of children and cigars.
1880 publication cover featuring school teacher lecturing on which tobacco to smoke. Booklet by founder of American Tobacco Co.
Inside the previous booklet, nursery rhymes are rewritten to promote smoking. 1880
Youth saying all the men his age smoke.
1871 shopkeeper watches as boys
1872 Boys make fun of sick
first time smoker.
1890’s storybook illustration.
Street urchins were inevitably pictured smoking.
1872 indenture for one year’s
apprenticeship as a cigar maker.
Full document is 2 ½ pages.
Street ‘mischievous’ boys smoke on this cigar label.
Nock [knock] was slang for criticize.
Street urchin cigar label. Late 1880’s?
Illustrations of children sick from
smoking are plentiful.
Boys of all social classes smoked with
less than happy results.
Lantern slide with 1st time smoker. 
Hankie with 1st time
1870’s? ad for 1¢ briar pipes
instead of cheap cigars.
Ad for chocolate cigars instead of
ones that make you sick.
“Why doesn’t dad smoke
1941 three year old who
smokes 5 cigars daily.
2 ½ year old who smoked cigars
before she talked.
Two year old son of a Chicago fireman relaxes with a cigar and a glass of beer. Mom says he
started smoking at nine months. 1957
Selection of German, Austrian, Belgian, French and Dutch postcards of child smokers from 1900-1915±.
French child says the only thing better than daddy coming home on the express is the opportunity to smoke three cigars a day. 
Wow! What a cutie.
Curly headed boy or girl lights up.
Cigar smoking beer
drinking little angel.
One of a series picturing child bootblack.
Cigar smoking child shoemaker.
Camaraderie means sharing.
Little girl admires smoke rings.
The complete tea party.
Long thin cigars are typically Italian, though
appear to be popular throughout Europe.
Note the use of a cigar holder.
Posted in 1914. In general, these European kid smokers date from before World War One.
Cigarmakers and salesmen often posed their children with their product. See exhibit of Salesmen’s Advance Cards for other examples.
Daddy was probably a salesmen.
Not all posing of kids with cigars was for commercial purposes. This early 1870’s lad sits on a box,
while holding a pocket knife.
Not in the NCM collection. [w 0000]
1860s ambrotype of young smoker.
Not in the NCM collection.
Lovely 1880’s studio portrait of young boy
in a sailor suit and lit cigar.
Shortly after the Civil War, this lad was
immortalized on a tintype.
Hat, overalls, a segar and a pistol.
There’s a well prepared American boy.
1930’s U.S. snapshot.
c1947 U.S. snapshot of young
Larry Flowers puffing away.
1940’s jumbo cigar he probably didn’t light.
Father & son share a tender
British children were not immune
to the lure of a cigar.
Children fight for a cigar butt in this British trade card advertising FAG brand cigars.
The Englishwoman who sent this 1916 card asked her girlfriend “What do you think of this card? Rather a forward young man.” Not in the NCM collection.
Coffee trade card features
happy child smoker.
1930’s gas company ad’s
smoker isn’t as happy.
If an Alexis de Tocqueville scholar is among my readers, is it true that he was among those commenting on kid