What Shortage?

For U.S. smokers, inhaling more air than they liked last week, there was a sardonic note of cheer. So many cigarets were being diverted into the black market that racketeers grumbled that prices were falling. In Manhattan, where tobacconists guessed that half of all the popular-brand cigarets were being sold over the ceiling, black market wholesale prices were down 30¢ a carton from the peak of $2.40.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue had its own grim little joke: it statistically proved that there really should be no shortage. In January of 1944, when there was none, 20,115,137,677 cigarets went...

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