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A. Preedy & Sons Tobacconists

In the thirties this shop at 16 Birmingham Street, Oldbury, was occupied in succession by two independent tobacconists. At the Museum, the shop has been recreated as a branch of Alfred Preedy and Sons, the chain of tobacconists founded in Dudley in 1868.

Tobacconist interiorThe brands of cigarette and pipe tobacco on display give some idea of the range and number that even a small establishment would have to carry – on average numbering about 40 to 50. The ‘staples’ were the cheaper cigarette, including Park Drive, Players, Tenners, Weights and Woodbines, followed by Players Medium Navy Cut, the most popular brand between the wars, appealing to both men and women.

It did not take long for doctors to suspect that smoking was linked to a number of serious diseases though scientific opinion would be divided for generations. Often the public was left with vague notions that cigarettes stunted growth or led to heart problems, though these concerns were strong enough for cigarettes to earn the nickname ‘coffin nails’. The first health education campaign against smoking didn’t take place until 1968; the first health warnings on cigarette packets appeared in 1971.

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