Our Boys Want Smokes


This World War I poster from Canada solicits funds from the public to buy tobacco products for soldiers deployed at the front in Europe. It shows a popular cartoon by the artist Bert Thomas (1883–1966) in which a soldier is lighting his pipe, rifle at hand, and asking the German Kaiser to “Arf a mo” (wait a moment). The text announces: “Our boys want smokes. For 25 cents we send a dollar’s worth. Contributions received here for Canada's Tobacco Fund, organized by the Over-Seas Club.” “His Majesty the King” is listed as the patron of the club, and the text assures that “All the money goes for smokes. The club pays all expenses.” At a time before smoking was widely recognized as a health hazard, governments and private organizations in all combatant countries worked to ensure that soldiers had plenty to smoke. Thomas was a well-known British cartoonist who contributed to the humor magazine Punch. He drew this cartoon for the “Smokes for Tommy” (“Tommy” was slang for the British private soldier) campaign in Great Britain, which then was used for a similar campaign in Canada.

Last updated: February 10, 2014