White Lighters


Informant is a student at USC who calls herself a stoner.

Main Piece:

“It’s a common story with stoners that having a white lighter is bad luck.”


This conversation was recorded in-person. I was in possession of a white lighter which my informant took note of.


This example of folklore is a folk belief that is widely shared by a certain group of people (in this case, stoners). In similar vein to black cats crossing the street or walking underneath a ladder bringing bad luck, the actual physicality of the lighter does not bring any luck, but rather has been given a symbolic meaning later on. My informant did not know why specifically a white-colored lighter brought bad luck, and later found out about the urban legend that many famous musicians supposedly died while carrying a white lighter. Whether this is actually true or not isn’t the important part, but such a story would reasonably carry weight among people who possess lighters or frequently use them, and like my informant did, would also pass along the story as a word of caution to people in their circles who also smoke.