British cigarettes, WTF?

One of my wife’s friends just took off for a week in Japan, just after he got back from a week in England. American schoolteachers get the entire summer off, don’t you know. And are not, in my experience, conspicuously underpaid.

Anyway, the guy left my wife a “present” of dubious virtue because she agreed to look after his rat-faced little mutant cat while he’s away. It’s a pack of what I have to believe are typical English tobacco stick equivalents, and since my wife has quit smoking she gave them to me. Damn, these things are nasty. Honestly, they taste exactly like what I imagine a dead skunk’s ass tastes like.

I know that we have a number of fine, discerning British members, and I’m begging you guys to assure me that these things a completely atypical. Because otherwise I can’t imagine why anybody over there would take up smoking.

It’s a kind of gold-yellow colored pack that says “555” and “State Express Of London” on it. Up near the top above a blue chevron is a logo with a couple of horse/lion things flanking a crown above the letters “SE”, and the fine print says “The classic marque of high distinction.* Manufacturers of quality cigarettes.** Ardath Tobacco Company, London.” I have on idea how the letters “S” and “E” relate to “Ardath Tobacco”, but I’m just an ignorant Yank and so I figure it has to be some sort of cockeyed rhyming slang deal.

I caught a bit of a clue, because on one side of the pack there’s some weird foreign scribble writing*** (not Arabic or Hebrew) and beneath that it says “Made in Myanmar Under Authority of Ardath Tobacco Co. Ltd.” I don’t have any idea where this Myanmar place is, but I assume it’s someplace in Turkey where they pay 12 year old kids nine cents a day to stuff crushed oak leaves and shredded used sweatsocks into cigarette wrappers. We have a Miramar Naval Air Station in the desert in California, but I don’t think that’s it.

This is just a crappy off brand, right? What do hapless nicotene addicts like me really smoke in England?

  • HAH! These things suck.

** Double HAH! These things really suck.

** This “obnoxious American” bit is mostly a put-on for the board, 'kay? Mostly.

When I was living in London, Silk Cut was a big brand. But honestly, most of my Brit friends smoked Marlboro’s!

In my day Player’s Navy Cut or Senior Service and once in a while a pack of Sobranie Black Russian.

I wish you hadn’t asked.

Myanmar is better known as Burma. 555 is a brand that’s been around for years. IANACS but come from a smoking background; Embassy, John Player*, Benson & Hedges and a whole bunch of other tabs are probably wider-known than 555, but it’s not like they’re considered skanky.

(*One of John Player’s better-known brands is “Player’s No. 6”, often known as “No. 6”. Hence the story of the two gentlemen who have left the pub at closing time and realize they haven’t any smokes on them. One of them volunteers to see if the Chinese takeway has any. He reappears ten minutes later laden down with bags and bags of foil food containers. “What’s all this?” says his mate. “I don’t know, I only asked if I could have twenty Number 6!” replies the first.)

Burma, huh?

There, see? The board has served its purpose. Malacandra taught me something.

Back when I was a smoker, I distinctly recall a general sense of contempt for 555 amongst my circle of friends; they were one of the cheapest brands and were considered a ‘last resort’ purchase when funds would not stretch to anything else.

When I was a lad State Express 555 were one of the most prestigious and expensive brands in the UK , but I have not seen them for sale over here for years. After a bit of Googling it looks as though this brand has now moved down-market and is now just an export brand which is marketed in the Far East and many third-world countries. One article says they are especially popular in China because non English readers can easily spot the “555” logo on a pack.

This is the first time that I ever heard that Myanmar had any consumer-level exports.

So, let me get this straight. You wife agreed to watch his cat for a WEEK, and he gave her (a Non-smoker) a pack (not a carton) of cheapo cancer sticks? You sure the word “friend” up there shouldn’t be followed by :rolleyes: or :dubious: or put in “”""?

555 is one of the brands British American Tobacco sell in third-world countries only (so they can sell cheap cigs without worrying about grey exprots back into more developed markets). I doubt they are made in Myanmar, probably made somewhere else for sale in Myanmar.
I have no doubt they would taste like ass, but that may be due to local preferences (Indonesian cigarettes apparently contain cloves, for instance).

You’ve obviously never met this guy. There’s a reason he doesn’t have a steady boyfriend.

Considering the possible origins of these things (thanks, Rayne Man) they may actually be upwards of a year old at this point, since he went to Taiwan last summer.

Just FTR, Burma’s name was officially changed to Myanmar after a coup in 1992, when the country’s rule was violently seized by a junta known, with awesome irony, as the State Peace and Development Council. Whether the country is called Burma or Myanmar depends on whether the speaker recognizes the Council as a legitimate government or not. Coincident with the Burma/Myanmar name change, the capital’s name was changed from Rangoon to Yangon.

Exgineer, I assumethe script on the package looks something like this?

Huh. They sell 555’s in those little corner “discount” tobacco shops around here, and they cost just as much as a pack of Dunhill, Nat Sherman or Galuoises do (sometimes around $10+ a pack, whereas your Marlboro’s can be had for around $6). Never tried them myself, as on those rare occasions I feel like getting something exotic I go straight for the Dunhills.

That’s only true of the English version of the name. The Burmese version was *always * Myanmar, and even the democratic opposition refers to the country as Myanmar when speaking Burmese.

Exactly like that. Now I know what Burmese script looks like. I can’t read it, but I know what it looks like.

Don’t do it, Clurican, just don’t do it. You can remember me in your will. The pack I have didn’t have a tax stamp, so I know he didn’t get it from some corner bodega here. I have the genuine, crappy article. And you don’t want it.

For further perspective on the rat-faced-mutant-cat owner’s personality - I’ll just say that if he hadn’t quit smoking himself she wouldn’t have even gotten the cheapo smokes for looking after the mutant rat-faced cat for a week.

Seriously, there’s something wrong with that thing.

One explanation of why these cigarettes are so bad is that they might be fake. I know that bootleg copies are a multi-million dollar industry all over the world with very convincing packaging containing sub-standard products. News story here:-

Avoid like the plague any US brand names that state “made under license” and what-not. They are terrible, as far as those things go.

We call them “Three Fives” and they are just about the most disgusting fags around. That’s just what they taste like - as if they’ve been dried out after a thorough soaking in a cess pit.

Ah, thus I need to add the words “musty” and “possible fake” to "You wife agreed to watch his cat for a WEEK, and he gave her (a Non-smoker) a pack (not a carton) of cheapo cancer sticks? " Why not just give her a nickel and be thought comparatively generous? :rolleyes:

Damn, that dude is CHEAP!