General Question

asmonet's avatar

Why do smokers 'pack' their cigarettes?

Asked by asmonet (21276points) January 16th, 2009

Everyone I know who smokes does this, pounding the pack on something hard or the palm of their hand until all the tobacco gets packed down towards the filter. Not one of them seems capable of telling me why they do it. The best answer I ever received was: “You just do.”

Is there any benefit to packing? Does it change the experience in some noticeable way? If not, why bother?

And what’s with that freaking ‘lucky’ cigarette in the front turned upside down?

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29 Answers

elchoopanebre's avatar

I don’t notice a difference between doing it and not doing it.

(I don’t smoke anymore so please don’t hound me about smoking!)

tinyfaery's avatar

Packing makes the tabacco tighter which makes for a longer lasting, slower burning cigarette. I don’t smoke anymore. Booo =(

shilolo's avatar

To seem cool. Both (the packing and lucky cigarette) are rituals, plain and simple.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Tinyfaery has is right. Packing the cigarettes makes them burn a lot slower, it has nothing to do with looking cool. :P I smoke, unfortunately, and I know from experience that packing them makes them last longer. As for the “lucky”... Well, that’s just stupid. I know a lot of other smokers who do that and it’s just annoying to me.

asmonet's avatar

Thanks for the info guys. :)

bodyhead's avatar

When you pack the cigarettes, you are much less likely to accidently drop the cherry in the ash tray when you are trying to ash the cigarette. When the tobacco is crammed closer in the cigarette, it’s much less likely to fall out.

As far as the lucky cigarette, it brings you as much luck as my guardian angel brings me.

As far as your friends are concerned, if I don’t know why I’m doing something, I stop doing it until I figure it out. I’m shocked that no one could tell you why they pack cigarettes.

Jeruba's avatar

I believe the word is “tamping.” My husband does this smoke by smoke (I hear tap tap tap tap and I know he’s about to head outside), not a pack at a time. I think I used to, too, but it’s been nearly 20 years and I don’t remember. Tinyfaery has the right reason.

asmonet's avatar

Well, there are some follower tendencies in the friends I have that do smoke, all they ever said was that’s what you’re supposed to do, or that’s what the people they started smoking with did and they didn’t seem to have thought about it much. Thanks for taking the time, bodyhead, and Jeruba. :)

chelseababyy's avatar

What tinyfaery said :D :D :D :D

bodyhead's avatar

Don’t take me wrong asmonet. You might suggest to them that they not pack their cigarettes and see if they smoke the same. I’m not trying to be rude or anything.

Smoking itself creates a follower tendency. I would have never started if no one else on earth smoked.

Jamspoon's avatar

@asmonet Now that you have been granted this sanctified knowledge you now posses a great deal of power that many below you—yes those without such depth of elucidation are now indeed below you—do not have.

And as certain as the sun will continue to rise and set long after you’ve gone these lesser beings will surely be willing to rend soul from body to acquire such secrets. Guard them well, and use it with the utmost discretion!

arnbev959's avatar

More great answer here.

judochop's avatar

Okay, since there are so many pot smokers here I can put it this way for you all;
Packing does make it burn slower and helps pack it all down so that it is not as strong.
Think of it like this…If you roll a joint and it is loose then it burns faster and hits stronger right? Same with a cigarette. Some people pinch the ends of them to make them looser and burn faster. It is not because of a cool factor at all. I smoke an ultra light cigarette and before that I smoked lights which I would pack hard. If it looks cool then I guess that’s bonus points for a very uncool thing. If you doubt me then try it yourself. This is why people pack their cigarettes.

scamp's avatar

I agree with tiny, judochop and drastic dreamer, and disagree with, shi. I quit smoking, but I never packed when I did, btw

asmonet's avatar

@petethepothead: Damn! I thought I looked hard enough. :)

asmonet's avatar

Wow, one of the snaswers on the other thread was pretty cool. :)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Even based on that experiment done in the other thread, it’s not true, pure and simple, based on my own personal experience with packing and not packing cigarettes. Packed ones last much longer.

tinyfaery's avatar

Or just buy American Spirits. They last forever.

augustlan's avatar

I do it for the same reason bodyhead gave. Loosely packed tobacco tends to fall out at the most inconvenient times! I’ve dropped cherries (usually not in an ashtray) several times when I’ve forgotten to pack.

maybe_KB's avatar

Ritual drum beat

asmonet's avatar

How did I manage to write ‘snaswers’?

Bando90's avatar

Acutually i pack my ciggs cause it gives a a way better hit cause all the tabacco
is pack closely together n it does burn slower…
and as for the lucky cigarette well my grandpa told me they use to do it back
in the day so when someone would ask them to bumb a cigg of them and they only had one they could just say sorry its mah lucky one…well thats how i herd it started..

tito_McGee's avatar

Guys…Come on now. From my experience, us smokers, usually smoke together as in a “Pack”. Therefore, when in a pack you must pack the cigarettes because you are with your fellow pack members. My particular smoking pack is referred to as the “Tobacco Thunders!” That is what we call ourselves. In order to stay in the pack, one must continue to pack their cigarettes. We are quick to kick any member of the “Thunder” out of the pack if witnessed not packing their pack of cigarettes. That is all.

Tito “Thunder”

pyrofire5's avatar

If you see someone with a lucky cigarette in their pack BREAK IT.

krzdkanga's avatar

There are 3 advantages of packing cigarettes:

1. It compacts the tobacco, removing air pockets or reducing their size. This results in a more consistent burn (i.e. the cigarette won’t die out or burn faster down one side).

2. Because the tobacco is more compacted and there is less air in the body of cigarette there is less oxygen to encourage the tobacco to burn unless the smoker is drawing in air. This means the cigarette will burn far less while it is not being smoked which is nice for people that like to talk or enjoy their smokes… the cig isn’t going to just burn away while they hold it.

3. The final reason packing your cigarettes is nice is because it forces the tobacco down so that the very tip of cigarette is just an empty paper cylinder. This is nice because, if you gently light the very tip of the cigarette it is not nearly as difficult to get the cigarette lit because you only have to start the paper edges burning and it will burn down to the tobacco and burn the tobacco from the outside inwards. It is cool have the edge burning before the center in this fashion because it encourages the cigarette to keep that pattern going and you get a nice cone-shape “cherry” (the burning portion). This allows the heat from the burning “cherry” to dissipate into the outside air and not keep burning more tobacco which, again, help slow the burn of the cig especially while the smoker isn’t puffing on it. This also make the cigarette easier to ash without “popping the cherry” (flicking the cigarette to ash it and having the burning portion fall off the cigarette entirely). It also allows you to light the cigarette with less heat. This is nice because if you char the tip of the cigarette to get it burning it retains that heat and burns faster and cause the smoke the smoker inhales to be hotter and harsher.

So, now you know.

augustlan's avatar

@krzdkanga Thanks for such a comprehensive answer. Welcome to Fluther!

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Sinqer's avatar

Wow, some crazy answers…

As a smoker, I pack my cigarettes because the tobacco will shake out of them. When you carry cigarettes in your pocket as you perform activities, the tobacco loosens and falls out into the box. And no, you can’t put it back in.

When we put cigarettes in our pockets, we focus on ensuring the filter end goes down for the same reason. But even still, if you lie down to change the oil in your car (for example), as you move, the pack shakes and hits things which slowly dislodges the tobacco.

Austinpeer's avatar

As For the Lucky It was widely used during the Vietnam era. Soldiers would flip their first cigarette upside down calling their “Lucky” and if they managed to live till that last cigarette they were considered lucky to have stayed alive that long.

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