ONCE UPON A TIME, THEY WERE EVERYWHERE, but these days, about the only place youâ€™ll see a cigarette vending machine is in a bar, strip club or other business that restricts admission to minors. Other than those few exceptions, I occasionally run across old cigarette machinesâ€”usually rusting away in backroom storage areas and basements of clubs and older movie theaters.
Recently I was amused by a photo sent to me by my friend Steve Savanyu, whoâ€™s the Director of Educational Services for audio manufacturer Audio-Technica. Steveâ€™s also an adjunct professor at Kent State Universityâ€™s school of journalism/mass communication. Heâ€™s a smart guy and whenever he has something to say, itâ€™s worth hearing.
Back to our storyâ€¦ A while ago, Steve was backstage at the Blossom Music Center, a large, state-of-the-art performing arts complex in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio. He forwarded me this intriguing photo, that showed where some enterprising individual converted an old, obsolete (50-cent/pack) cigarette machine to a new functionality: Selling disposable foam earplugs to stagehands and crew members who may have forgotten to bring their own plugs to setups and soundchecks. At $0.50/pair, thereâ€™s no huge profit potential here, but as a public service, the ideaâ€™s brilliant and has a lot of merit.
With the very real risk of hearing loss to patrons (as well as crews) at todayâ€™s way-too-loud shows and performances, maybe other people could pick up on this great notionâ€”and place these in prominent public areas at venues. But either way, a pack of earplugs is definitely more healthy than a pack of smokes. Definitely.