Cigarette Pack Collectors' Association

                                           Kiss of Death Cigarettes





In 1965, two Harvard sophomores, in an attempt to express commercially the view taken by the Surgeon General on cigarette smoking,  produced their own brand of weeds. They called them "Kiss of Death" cigarettes. The students, Richard B. Hirst and Charles L. Geer, got the idea about a year earlier , soon after the Surgeon General's Report on Cigarette Smoking had been issued.   They formed Blue Knight Enterprises, which, by the middle of the summer, had begun to market  the cigarettes.

    "We sent them to distributors in Cambridge, Boston, Greenwich Village in New York, and San Francisco," said Hirst. "College students would buy a pack or two, but older folks would buy a pack or two and give them to friends. A lot of older people bought them at Leavitt & Pierce." Geer noted that Kiss of Death sales did not cut into the market of other brands. The regular-sized, un filtered cigarettes contain "an original blend of the choicest Turkish and domestic tobaccos, producing a distinctively mild, rich, and pleasant smoke," according to a blurb on the package back. The pack resembled Pall Mall's, except that the Kiss of Death seal was a skull and crossbones and its’ motto is "A rose by any other name would small as sweet." One pack of Kiss of Deaths (or Kisses of Death) sold for 40 cents. Although the market last proved positive, Geer and Hirst stopped producing Kiss of Death cigarette in late September. Only large scale distribution would make continued production worthwhile, they said, and they were hesitant about risking the sizable investment that such distribution would require. The cancer scare, they noted, is dead, sad it was only that scare that made their cigarette popular. "But if we could hit a large number of cigarette smokers," Hirst noted, "we'd be very happy and very rich."

(Harvard Crimson   March  22, 1965)