Cigarettes, though, were higher. I didn't smoke, but when I was small (four or five) the family sometimes went to a restaurant that had a cigarette machine. If one of my parents needed smokes, I'd beg for the chance to pull the handle on the machine.
The pack cost .47. You'd put in two quarters, and out would come a pack of Chesterfield Straights (preferred brand in our house) with three pennies inside the wrapper. So they must have been more ten+ years later (or so) when I learned to drive.
Cigarettes in a machine always cost more. I believe cigarette machines are outlawed everywhere now.
re: a few pages back: Set, do youi suppose the cheaper prices at the PX had anything to do with not paying state or federal taxes on the stuff?
No . . . those taxes are built into the cost, including tobacco taxes. You wouldn't pay sales tax, but the advertised price does not include that anyway. No, the point i was making was that at the PX, you pay the cost of the item, and the cost of the overhead to operate the PX system. The prices would be the same all over the world, a little higher in the continental United States (a few pennies), but then, you would expect the cost of employing American civilians to be higher, as well.
The PX system sells what they sell at cost plus simple overhead--they are not allowed to make a profit, and are required to recover their costs. This is averaged across the entire system outside the United States, which keeps prices low (obviously, a civilian employee in Germany in 1970 will want more pay than a civilian employee in Korea in 1970). Within the United States, prices were only slightly higher than overseas (if i recall correctly, two cents on a pack of cigarettes).
So, with state taxes built into the price of a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of gas, and federal taxes built into the price of a pack of cigarettes, what you are seeing is the profit margin, and the net profit margin at that. After all, civilian employees of the United States military are paid at least as well as employees in a gas station or a convenience store, and probably more. What was really scandalous was that i was paying 19 cents a pack in the PX at Fort Eustis, Virginia in 1972, just before i got out of the army, and a pack of the same smokes in a gas station or store was 35 cents. It was such a low price, that if you wanted smokes, you just bought them wherever you were at--the extra 16 cents didn't matter. But that 16 cents was pure profit, or nearly pure profit.
But here's the kicker. If you buy something in a state which is produced in that state--which has not been transported across state lines--you aren't paying any federal tax. The largest selling brand produced in Virginia is Marlboro--but they weren't any cheaper than any other brand of cigarettes (except perhaps if there was a promotional sale), even though there was no federal tax on them if sold in Virginia. If you buy Camels, Winstons or Salems in North Carolina, there is no federal tax, because they are produced in North Carolina (R. J. Reynolds has their headquarters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina)--but they cost just as much as other cigarettes. I'm not alleging some vile capitalist conspiracy--necessarily--because it would have been pennies per pack in 1972. But these days, that tax would be a significant part of the cost of a carton of cigarettes. When i lived in North Carolina in the 1980s, we would buy cigarettes by the carton in the little shops along I95, which runs from Florida to Maine. There you found the cheapest cigarettes in North Carolina, because they knew they could rack up a huge volume of sales from the tourists driving between Florida and the northeastern states--and, once again, no federal tax on cigarettes sold in the state which produces them.