Made In Chinatown Multi-Brand Cigarettes. 牛车水万国(国际)香烟

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cigarette butts
Tobacco Leaves Recovered From Cigarette Butts
cigarette rolling
Reovered Tobacco Leaves Rolled Into New Sticks Of Cigarette

In the 1960’s/1970’s and earlier, Chinatown was very densely populated and many residents were poor and unemployed. Cigarette smoking was a very common habit especially among the male population. At that time the two most popular brands of cigarette sold were : Double Ace and Player’s Navy Cut. If I remember correctly the latter was sold at 50cts for a pack of 10 while Player’s was sold at 70cts. The premium brand was State Express 555. And the super-deluxe brand was one with a black dog  and a white dog label. Because many of the residents were low income or unemployed, even 50cts was ill-affordable . How ?

A few enterprising guys turned to rolling  their own cigarettes to sell.  They went around to pick up discarded cigarette butts to get their supply of free tobacco leaves. Tearing open the collected cigarette butts they will dry the re-cycled  tobacco leaves in the sun for an hour or so to dry them. Hey presto ! New sticks of cigarettes were produced. They were packed in retrieved cigarette boxes at 20cts for a pack of 10.  Many called these cigarettes   as Chinatown  Multi-Brand/International Cigarettes 万国(国际)烟, because they were  made from the tobacco leaves of many different brands from different countries. Quite an app name, really.  The Chinatown Multi-Brand/International Cigarettes 万国 (国际)烟, parked themselves at the shophouses near the junction of Pagoda Street /Trengganu Street and their regular customers knew where to find them.

In credit to these guys, they  had innovatively practised “re-cycling” years before any one mentioned it. Except for the cigarette papers and some time/skill in rolling the cigarettes, cost of materials was virtually zero. Even at 20cts a pack, their profit margin was pretty good.

Moot Question : Assuming some one was to do the same in Singapore now, putting aside the question of hygiene etc,  would the authorities disallow it ? On what grounds ? Producing cigarettes without paying tax ? The rebuttal could be that the tobacco used was already taxed  in the original cigarettes.  True ? False ?

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