Cigarette Lights Self (Not That We Needed It)

Gashbam Enterprises of Israel has created a cigarette with a built-in match, according to New Scientist. The cigarette has a tip anointed with sulphur and phosphorus. Striking the tip against a rough pad on the side of the packet ignites the cigarette, which is reinforced with slivers of bamboo or tobacco leaf to stop it breaking.

SF writer Robert Heinlein thought of the idea more than a half-century ago; he refers to them with a minimum of words in his 1941 novel Methuselah's Children:

When they reached her apartment she put tobacco and drink close to him, then went to her retiring room, threw off her street clothes and put on a soft loose robe that made her look even smaller and younger than she had looked before. When she rejoined Lazarus, he stood up, struck a cigarette for her, then paused as he handed it to her and gave a gallant and indelicate whistle.

Keep in mind that in this novel, the Howard Families had achieved very long lives (regardless of smoking studies). He used a few more words in his 1951 novel Double Star:

...the simulacrum in front of me struck a cigarette in a fashion that convinced me that he had used matches and the oldfashioned sort of gasper for years before he had gone along with the march of so-called progress.

Another reference can be found in Philip High's 1964 novel The Prodigal Sun, which improves on Heinlein's version - it is self-striking:

"He touched the delivery button and watched the servo eject the carton. He extracted a cigarette, flicked off the plastic tip and watched the tobacco light on contact with the atmosphere."

No word yet from the American Cancer Society on what effect the addition of sulphur, phosphorus and bamboo will have on the hazards of smoking.

News brief from New Scientist; thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip on the story and the Prodigal Sun reference.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/24/2005)

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