Smoke 'em if you got 'em

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This article is about the phrase. For the 1990 album, see Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em (album).

The phrase "Smoke 'em if you got 'em" or "Smoke if you got 'em" is slang for "do what you want, if you have the means". The first phrase was popular in the military during World War II, meaning to take a break. Officers would say "Smoke 'em if you got 'em", allowing the soldiers to take a break and smoke their cigarettes. "if you got' em" referred to the vagaries of war. Cigarettes were nearly impossible to get in Europe during that time, because of the deprivations of the war. Along with nylons for women, cigarettes were a luxury item that took on cultural importance beyond their monetary value. Soldiers got a daily allotment of cigarettes with their K ration, the 1940s version of MREs. Not all soldiers smoked, or if they did, they did not crave, and therefore unsmoked cigarettes became a War Department currency. They traded freely across all borders and social classes. Seventy-five years later the phrase is a touchstone used in all media to evoke a former heroic period. [1]


  1. ^ Vic Morrow - Combattes ber! ABC television series October 1962