A cigarette holder is a fashion accessory, a slender tube in which a cigarette is held for smoking.
Most frequently made of silver, jade or bakelite (popular in the past but now wholly replaced by modern plastics), cigarette holders were considered an essential part of ladies’ fashion from the mid-1910s through the early-1970s, and are still widely popular accessories in many aspects of Japanese fashion.
Cigarette holders range from the simplest single material constructs to incredibly ornate styles with complex inlays of metal and gemstones. Rarer examples of these can be found in enamel, horn, tortoise shell, or more precious materials such as amber and ivory.
As with evening gloves, ladies’ cigarette holders are measured by four traditional formal standard lengths:
– Opera length, usually 16 to 20 inches/40 to 50 cm
– Theatre length, 10 to 14 inches/25 to 35 cm
– Dinner length, 4 to 6 inches/10 to 15 cm
– Cocktail length, which includes shorter holders
Traditionally, men’s cigarette holders were no more than 4 inches long.
The holder was also used as a practical accessory, as before the advent of filtered cigarettes in the 1960s, the holder would encase a filter. Though modern cigarettes are generally manufactured with an existing filter, filtered cigarette holders are still used as a secondary filtration system, and to prevent nicotine staining of the fingers.
A similar holder made of wood, meerschaum or bakelite and with an amber mouthpiece was used for cigars and was a popular accessory for men from the Edwardian period until the 1920s.