RUMANIA: Butting In

The carton is a currency

A Rumanian lovely at a hotel bar in Bucharest sidled suggestively over to the American tourist. Instead of the usual offer of sexual delights, she cooed a surprising request: "Darling, you buy me a carton of Kents, O.K.?"

American-made Kent cigarettes, in their familiar white package, have become a form of alternative currency in President Nicolae Ceauşescu's Socialist Republic. Diplomats and foreign visitors use them as tips or to consummate business as well as sexual deals. Nor do the cigarettes immediately go up in smoke. Instead, they are...

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