Smoke 'em if you got 'em

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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 United States 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" referring 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 nylon stockings 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 combat ration equivalent of modern Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs). Not all soldiers smoked, and unsmoked cigarettes became a War Department currency. The soldiers traded freely across all borders and social classes. Seventy-five years later, the phrase was a touchstone used in all media to evoke a former heroic period. [1]


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