Say I'm a blue-collar Canadian in the 00s. What do I smoke?
June 9, 2013 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing a book, and I want to know what blue-collar people in central Canada - Alberta, specifically - would buy as cigarettes, brand-wise. I've got my own hunches, but I'm not from there, and I'd appreciate some further direction.

If it helps, the people are all people who work in Fort Mac - so if it's something that people from the East Coast would smoke, that's just as helpful. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
Alberta boy from a family of blue-collar smokers here. du Maurier and Players stand out. Canadian brand, if counting nickels is the goal.
posted by hamandcheese at 8:56 AM on June 9, 2013

Players, du Maurier are good choices. Players are a bit cheaper in my experience. In your writing you may want to get a bit more specific than just "Players" or "du Maurier" -- there are varieties within each brand. Other (less expensive) options are Canadian Classic and cigarettes purchased on an Aboriginal reserve.
posted by demagogue at 9:09 AM on June 9, 2013

Canadian Classic and Accord seem to be blue-collar brands of choice in my corner of the east coast. Maybe du Maurier or Export A Golds if they're flush with oil money.
posted by tealsocks at 9:15 AM on June 9, 2013

Export A Full Flavour, the green pack. I lived in Alberta for a few years in the late 90s/early 00s and we called them "Green Death."
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Men or women?

It matters.
posted by srboisvert at 9:33 AM on June 9, 2013

DuMaurier, Players and Export A are all good. As a fun fact, back then sometimes canadian cigs marked for export could be re-imported and sold off the back of a truck for less than retail, which was high priced due to the sin taxes. It was mostly back East, but it's an interesting bit of history and adds a touch of realism if you are writing fiction.

Not oil and gas related, but if we were on fire watch and couldn't smoke we would chew tobacco as well, the usual Red Man or whatever was available.
posted by acheekymonkey at 10:08 AM on June 9, 2013

It might depend on when exactly, there have been some pretty drastic price increases. In 2000, more name brands. In 2009, more off-brands like Belmont Mild or Canadian Classic. That said, Export A Green are to me the iconic Canadian workingman's (srboisvert is right there) cigarette. Regular, not king size. I think broke college students are more likely to smoke cheaper brands and the truly poor are more likely to go to the reservation for rollies, aka natives—a ziploc bag stuffed with 200 loose cigarettes. If I were grinding it out in the tar sands I'd damn well be smoking my preferred brand.
posted by Lorin at 10:23 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm an Ottawan, but -- seconding the 'gender matters,' and the iconic status of the box of 'Green Death.' Player's Light might be the go-to for a younger (that is, started smoking when dangers were more clear) working man, but certainly not Player's Extra Light (his father would smoke Player's Filters?). Absolutely not Benson and Hedges, and I am iffy about the du Mauriers; they have tried to sell themselves as a more genteel brand -- but then there is the street slang for them as "du Ms," pronounced "dumes," making them not inconceivable, especially for a female smoker.
posted by kmennie at 10:42 AM on June 9, 2013

Player's Light or Viscount.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:13 AM on June 9, 2013

Nthing Green Death; my dad is a blue collar Canadian who has worked extensively in Alberta and has smoked Export A Full Flavor, Regular all his life. However, in addition to gender, age is also possibly a factor. Maybe because of my parents, I consider the Exports a middle-aged, male choice cigarette (My mom smoked them too until she quit, but I associate the Export Gold with older ladies).

Growing up in rural Manitoba, Player's was popular across genders and age groups, with girls also favouring du Mauriers. Lights were considered for girls as were King-sizes, but I think that bias has eroded as prices has gone up and kings seem like a better value. American brands had a certain status and novelty value, particularly Marlboro Reds, but that could have just been particular to my place and time.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:15 PM on June 9, 2013

> I'm writing a book, and I want to know what blue-collar people in central Canada - Alberta, specifically - would buy as cigarettes, brand-wise.

My guess would be Export, Players, or Canadian Classics, but I figured I should also note that very few people (if any) refer to Alberta as central Canada. "Central Canada" is normally Ontario and Quebec, with Alberta being solidly western. This chart on Wikipedia has far more detail than I'd ever imagined before finding it just now. Each of the 4- to 6-region models are quite common.
posted by matlock expressway at 7:06 PM on June 9, 2013

Data point: I grew up near Grande Prairie, which is a similar oil-centric city to Fort Mac, but bigger and a bit less isolated. Nearly everyone my age (I graduated high in '98) I knew who smoked, smoked Du Maurier (all the women smokers did and most of the guys, too), My dad (a tool-push turn consultant, so very much blue-collar) smoked/smokes Players, and most of his cohort who smoked either smoked Players or Export A.

And yes, matlock expressway is right - in Alberta, we consider ourselves western Canadians. However, we also refer to Ontario and Quebec as "out east". I don't know if we'd use "central" for any geographic designation to be honest.

Your time-frame is well before the Tobacco Reduction Act, but if I recall the major cities were starting to ban smoking in public places, and this was starting to have some affect. Not sure about Fort Mac, but as I have a tobacco allergy, Grande Prairie became way, way more tolerable for me by the end of the 00's than it was at the beginning.
posted by Kurichina at 7:23 AM on June 10, 2013

Agreeing with Kurichina -- an Albertan would most likely refer to Ontario and Quebec as "out east".

Also note that in the time frame of your story, smoking might be legal in bars. Best to check!
posted by demagogue at 8:35 AM on June 10, 2013

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