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On This Day….

Courtesy of RNA Central

27 January 1989 saw the beginning of the end for the Royal Navy’s ‘blue liner’ cigarettes and tobacco.
The cheap cigarettes, so-called because of the thin blue line marked on them, along with the words ‘HM Ships only’, were available at special duty-free rates – monthly ‘allowances’ saw sailors buy them by the hundred.
Location was the limiting factor, depending on whether a sailor was serving at sea (basic monthly allowance varied, starting at 500 or 600, with commercial branded cigarettes available at these duty-free rates in the NAAFI) or UK shore-based (300 per month).
Quality of the blue liners – manufactured by various companies – was a moot point, but they also served as a useful bartering ‘currency’ within the Senior Service.
But DCI(RN) 11/89 signalled the end of the Naval perk, with the Admiralty deciding that the health and fitness of sailors should take priority over the perk, and that smoking should be discouraged in the face of such strong medical evidence.
Over the next two years prices were gradually increased until they reached the same level as commercial products on general sale.
Our picture (top), from the Imperial War Museum collection (© IWM (A 12996)), shows a sailor enjoying one of the free cigarettes issued to the Royal Navy in late 1942