Just as Marlboro killed two Marlboro Men, R.J. Reynolds has disemboweled Joe Camel. Cigarette makers can't help but turn on their own. Although the new package design for Camel cigarettes seems innocuous and perhaps even alluring, it should come with a warning. The Surgeon General? Screw him. Flavor conscious smokers beware: Camels now suck with reckless abandon.
R.J. Reynolds has been pulling asinine tricks with Camels for some time. Think of all those nonsense smokes like "Turkish Royal," "No. 9," "Exotics," and "Turkish Silver." I've had most of these, which are generally "light" cigarettes severely lacking in genuine tobacco taste and laced with silly flavorings. In my defense, I'm sometimes dead broke and such putrescence is often on sale.
As if their cigarettes weren't jerk-off enough, they thought it clever to sell them in slide boxes and "art packs." Even worse than marketing to children, they have been pandering to the club going, light beer drinking, Starbucks-ass college kid demographic and obviously to California's gayest one percent. Clearly, we should have seen this coming.
The bold, rich flavor that Camel smokers like myself have fallen in love with has been gutted in an apparent appeal to slouching, skateboarding-ass schoolboys who smoke Marlboro Lights. R.J. Reynolds boasts of "world-class smoothness." Precisely the problem. The new generation of Camels are smooth to the point of blandness, having the flavor strength of a "light" cigarette. It's like smoking mayonnaise. Apparently, they contain excessively more of that "Turkish" tobacco they're so damn proud of. Camel Filters now taste much like those pitiful Turkish Golds.
I cracked open my first carton of the new Camels, lit up, and thought about quitting. This corporation has twice shafted us, as this punk move comes after the abolishment of Camel Cash, which scored me cartons of free smokes. Conspiracy theory: R.J. Reynolds has been surreptitiously infiltrated by rabid anti-smokers and Philip Morris stockholders.
I did quit. For 11 days I traded up to a real smoke: Carter Hall in a straight briar. Cigarette cravings were abruptly quelled by the troubling memories of those bastardized Camels. Sensibilities vanquished by addiction, I bowed to the beast and began smoking Marlboro Red. In the days before my palate hit puberty, I smoked these fast-burning losers. I stumbled upon a superior smoke when a recession hit. I was unemployed and Camels were on sale – and so it began. They were exquisite, and paired marvelously with dark beer or coffee. Swilling coffee and chain-smoking in a working-class diner is the enlightened man's meditation.
It was slick marketing rather than actual tobacco that made Marlboro the international favorite. The uneventful flavor becomes loathsome and tastes of chemicals. The ash flies everywhere. Walk in any measurable rain with one and watch how fast the flimsy stick disintegrates. If presented with a smoldering Marlboro Red, I'll put it out in my best eye rather than smoke it. I have a full carton and I'm looking for a buyer.
Utterly desperate to smoke something that damn sure wouldn't taste like Reds, I sullied my Zippo with Marlboro Menthol Lights. Menthols are ridiculous, and smoking "light" cigarettes is a pointless waste of lung capacity. Crack must have been in my quarter bent that day. Camel non-filters are still the same, but cost an extra $1 per pack and are not universally available. The same is true of the rich, delicious, toasty Lucky Strikes. These two brands are undoubtedly the best cigarettes in America. True, high-end smokes like Nat Shermans are sublime, but hardly comparable to a serious smoke like Luckies.
Winstons are my new smoke. They are touted as "additive free" – like I care; additives may taste good for all I know. "Naturally smooth," the pack reads. As demonstrated, smoothness is overrated. However, they actually do "taste good like a cigarette should." Although robust and positively superior to Marlboros, the flavor strength isn't quite that of an old Camel. I suppose this is as close as it gets. Winstons are a satisfying smoke with a round, distinctive flavor.
According to R.J. Reynolds, the tobacco in Winston Selects has been aged longer for a richer flavor. As I recall, they have more depth of flavor than standard kings, but produce a horrid room note and are available at few places but cigarette shops. Personally, I prefer the classic taste of regular Winstons.
Times are changing, and smoking is going the way of the once-venerable Joe Camel. To change with the times is to wallow in defeat. Nevertheless, some of us have been dragged down to the level of "compromise." Ironically, switching to Winstons only continues to reward the Camel-butchering scum. Cigarettes are with us always and they should always satisfy.