|An (American?) newspaper feature, dated 1934. From Modern Mechanix|
Women were sampling snuff as early as 1715, when John Arbuckle (obviously not a snuff-fan) wrote 'With Snuff the beauteous Celia hides her face,/ And adds a foil to every obvious grace'.
In the late Victorian period, smoking was largely an urban trend among daring creative types, lady writers and art students, and was perceived as very modern. Upper middle class London women's clubs provided smoking rooms for their members. And Edith Vance, in a letter to the Daily Mail, in 1898, called for women smokers to band together in a 'League of Women Smokers'.
Soon special types of cigarette were being marketed for women - floral cigarettes, sweet cherry-tipped cigarettes, and a cigarette holder that could be cunningly attached to a muff.
Historian Penny Tinkler believes that smoking was fairly common among middle class as well as working women before the First World War. She cites the example of one woman, writing for the Mass Observation Project, who remembered how she was taught to smoke at 14, 'by a kitchen maid, under the table. My father was furious...one day I was smoking in the bathroom...He smelt the smoke and said, "You nasty, dirty little thing".'
During the two world wars, where troops were given cigarettes as part of their kit, women also adopted the habit. By 1948, three quarters of British men and 40% of women were thought to be smokers.
Today, early 20th century advertising featuring glamorous ladies puffing on a cigarette seems slightly immoral, corrupting and makes me feel like reaching for my cloche hat and furs and lighting up...