Poverty, as they say, is a great way to learn the difference between a habit and an addiction.
Okay, they don't say that, I did, but I'm pretty much one of them, so I'll occasionally speak for us (they).
And I think they (I) speak the truth. For instance, did you know that cigarettes are addictive? You find this out when you're poor and have a 30 year habit to support, all the while the state is trying to tax your habit out of existence. What to do? Well, it turns out that there are cheaper solutions, and at least one essentially free way to keep Mr. Jones at bay.
Smokers: did you know that all tobacco you need is lying in the streets, in gutters, in parking lots, in driveways? Just sitting there, waiting to be gathered in? This world has only produced one smoker who ever learned how to dispose of his butts somewhere other than at his own feet, and that's me, and I don't live in your town, most likely.
But everywhere else you look, people have tossed their cigarette butts, with numerous puffs of the good stuff still remaining, in the street, the parking lot, and anywhere else relatively horizontal. And really, twenty minutes of work can easily net you a stash that would fetch a good three or four dollars at the tobacconists, were there still tobacconists. So what are you waiting for? That tobacco is rightfully yours.
There are, however, a few pitfalls to this method, and you'll want to be aware of them before you set out on your quest.
1. I'm sure I hardly need mention the most obvious danger in scrounging the streets for tobacco, so well known is it for the horrors it has inflicted upon generations of smokers: that dreaded scourge known as menthol.
This noxious substance is added to many cigarettes, and often with a butt found in the gutter, there may be no way to tell it apart from those not so laced. One way is to examine the filter and the end of the butt for the presence of the color green, often used for the brand lettering on these abominations, and, for fancier cigarettes, a colored band where butt joins filter. If this color, or the color of the lettering is green, beware--you may have a menthol dreg. And if anything in this world is lower than a dreg, it's a menthol dreg.
So be on the lookout for anything green, and test any suspicious tobacco in a pipe or bong before rolling an entire cigarette out of it. So you don't forget, just repeat this simple rule to yourself a hundred times or so: GREEN: BAD.
What to do if you find yourself smoking your second gen ciggy and it tastes like mouthwash? Well, my advice is this: power down and finish that sucker. It's still reasonably effective as a nicotine delivery system, you probably can't reuse the rolling paper, and let's face it: one menthol cigarette does not reflect on your manhood, your character, or anything else of importance. It's only a preference for menthol that makes you a douchebag.
2. Never, ever put anything in your mouth that you've picked up off the street; this goes double for cigarettes, as they are known for a fact to have been in someone else's mouth at some point, and you know that's a much more germ and vermin infested environment than any street could ever be. And while, as they say, "you don't know whose mouth that's been in," you actually know everything you need to know: it has been in the mouth of a smoker. And remember: in today's world, only people like you still smoke cigarettes.
You want to roll them into new cigarettes, or use a pipe. Or a bong. Or, I don't know, an orange. Anything. Unwrap the leafy stuff, throw away the filters, and wash your hands. Get rid of nasty germs once and for all, leaving only the harmless tobacco.
3. Yes, people will see you doing this. And they will know. You can pretend to be picking at your foot all you want, but it is what it is. And no, they will not fall for any "I'm picking up litter" pretense you may try to pull off; to be believable at a glance, this would require at least a prison jumpsuit, and wearing this alone on the street creates its own issues.
So just do it. Who cares? Hell, they probably think you're scum for smoking already. They're the people who look at you like you're Hitler every time you light up! Probably. And fuck that shit. You need cigarettes!
4. There will be obvious places where cigarette butts are tossed on a daily basis. These are the dependable sources of clean, fresh butts, where regular smokers work and must do their smoking outside. You should avoid these places. Why? Because others with the same idea as you will be there, waiting like hawks. Hawks that smoke cigarettes. Intimidating, right? Not only does this become a competitive smoking situation, something to be avoided, but you will have the uncomfortable experience of seeing others like yourself, doing what you are doing. In other words, you will see how you are. And, possibly even worse, you will see how you used to be. Those gainfully employed workers, smoking fresh, virgin cigarettes they paid for with their hard-earned money? That was you, maybe, once upon a time. As much as you might want to claim their dregs, it is not healthy for you to see exactly how far you've fallen, to have it so quantified and laid out in an easy to read bar graph. Also, as I'm sure you'll remember, some of those workers are douchebags.
Addendum: Wow, turns out that caffeine is addictive, too. And there's none to be found lying in the streets. I mean, who knew, right? Who would have thought that ingesting a stimulant multiple times a day for 30 years would create some sort of dependence? Damn. This world is a freaking minefield. Well, you live and learn, I guess.