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/ January 30, 2013
MythPuffers: The Curse Of The White Lighter

Welcome to MythPuffers, a new series in which we debunk all urban legends surrounding drugs, sex, and rock & roll. If you’re curious about a myth regarding something illicit (does freezing weed keep it fresh?), send us a line at [email protected] and we’ll test it out (with pleasure). 

While many of you may have never thought twice about the iconic BIC lighters available around the world at every drug store, bodega, and gas station,  some of you paranoid stoners are probably familiar with the infamous curse of the white lighter.

In brief, there is somewhat of a cultural stigma against white lighters due to the fact that a large enough portion of pot smokers believes the innocuous devices are the cause of bad luck that encompasses run-ins with the law and even death in some cases. While these feelings are most likely grounded in superstition and paranoia, this week’s MythPuffers will examine the plausibility of the curse of the white lighter.

Although there are several hypotheses as to the origins of the curse of the white lighter, the most notorious is undoubtedly the lighter’s connection to the deaths of three left-handed rock stars in the first years of the 1970s. While the infamous “27 Club” is a whole other can of worms, it has been rumored that white lighters are inextricably linked to three of the club’s members—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison.

As the story goes the three musicians died of drug overdoses on separate occasions and, according to autopsy reports, white lighters were found on each of the scenes. While it may seem eerie that three prolific, left-handed musicians died with white lighters in their pockets, there is absolutely no way this is possible considering that disposable BIC lighters were introduced in 1973 and Hendrix and Joplin passed away in 1970 followed by Morrison in 1971.

While the link between the “27 Club” and the curse is a complete fabrication, we are still left wondering why white lighters? One astute contributor to the myth’s Urban Dictionary page, CtrlAltBlaze, explains that when the disposable BIC lighters were introduced in 1973 they were available in two colors—black and white—and were manufactured as one piece of plastic. Thus the white lighters were entirely white and the black lighters were entirely black, meaning they lacked the white bottom that every BIC lighter, no matter the color, has today. According to CtrlAltBlaze the black lighters were considerably superior because, unlike the white lighters, they did not show evidence of ash residue from packing a bowl, which was often looked for by the police. While CtrlAltBlaze’s story seems plausible, unfortunately information backing the existence of an all black BIC lighter is pretty much limited to commenter sections on rare lighter blogs.

Despite the impossibility of proving how this myth came about, it is undoubtedly present in the minds of today’s pot smoking youth. In a brief email survey, a few paranoid potheads insisted that white lighters are cursed citing incidents with the police, broken bongs, and even food poisoning. More people, however, responded with tales in which no harm has come from white lighter use, thus insinuating an unfair bias against the color.

All things considered, if we were to look at the amount of people that have experienced bad luck in the presence of a lighter in any of the twelve shades (which includes the maxi, mini, and slim) offered by BIC, theoretically speaking (and for all intents and purposes let’s imagine the colors are manufactured evenly because there is no way 51%—a majority—of the 1.825 billion lighters produced per year are white) the amount of people with black, red, orange, yellow, dark blue, dark green, brown, pink, purple, light green and light blue lighters combine would outnumber the amount of people with white lighters eleven to one.

In conclusion, there is no indication that white lighters are necessarily more cursed than any other color and although MythPuffers may not change the mind of every superstitious pot smoker, perhaps some of you will rest a little easier.

This myth: Puffed.

[Image via with alteration by Chelsea Beeler]