Found Ephemera: Are Your Ashtrays Safe?

Another semi-regular post today: Found Ephemera. I love this stuff – you know, the pamphlets, posters, flyers, notices, ads and more that are now dated and amusing but were serious messages at the time.

Click on the image to see a bigger version – it is worth it to read the small print!

I found this flyer in a correspondence file from the Western Australian Fire Brigades Board and it probably dates from the 1950s (a guess based on the dates of the letters surrounding it). I love it because it reminds me of my grandparents – all smokers who seemed to defy gravity with their cigarette ash. The smell of stale cigarettes is a fond one for me because it was the smell of their houses and their clothes.

Besides that, it illustrates a time when cigarettes really were a fire danger in homes and the Fire Brigade Board – charged with prevention and education as well as fighting fires – was interested in promoting the safe use of ashtrays. Around 72% of males smoked in the 1940s and 1950s (source: Australian Council on Smoking and Health) so it was important to get this message out to the public.

Now it is just a quaint reminder of a time well-and-truly past, perhaps only useful for historians wanting to tell yesterday’s stories. It is nice to have it back in the light of the day.


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