Smokers Superstition – Long Beach, CA

Smokers Superstition- Long Beach, CA

“Whenever you smoke a fresh pack of cigarettes you have to take the first one and flip it upside down in the box and then smoke it last, otherwise you will have bad luck.”

Bill said he learned about this superstition when he was 17 years old and a senior in high school in Long Beach, CA. He had just gotten into the notion of smoking because of a great number of people in class doing so. From one friend, he could not recall a specific person, he was told to flip the first cigarette upside and save it for last. If he did not it would be bad luck. Bill told me at first that he really did not believe the bad luck aspect of the superstition, but he practiced anyway because that’s what everyone else in his high school did. However, he then mentioned that one day he did not flip the first cigarette over and later that day he returned to his car and saw that he had been hit on the side by another car trying to park. Needless to say he saw this as a direct correlation to him not flipping over the cigarette and therefore he paid the price. This makes absolute sense because usually in the case of odd superstition such as this people are skeptical until they actually disobey the superstition and pay the consequences.

However, it is interesting to note that while I was interviewing my friend another associate of ours, also a smoker, claimed to have never have heard of this superstition before and thought it was absolutely absurd. It is important to note that this other gentleman is from the Midwestern part of the country. This is a prime example of the Historic Geographic method developed by the Kronhes because this piece of folklore is quite avid in one part of the country and noticeably absent in another.

I feel this is a very interesting piece of folklore that reflects an example of occupational folklore, you are not considered part of the smoking crowd unless you know this tradition. Superstition is a natural part of human existence because people have very little control over their life so they often practice superstition to ensure no harm will come their way. I myself do not smoke so would not engage in this superstition, but Bill made an interesting point about doing it simply because his friends were also doing it, a reflection of peer pressure in our society. We all can relate to this feeling of wanting to belong, even if that thing you belong to, such as smoking, is bad for you. We long for acceptance and the opportunity to fit in.