I think part of the reason of the decline in popularity of cigarette magic is that smoking has recently become unacceptable in many public places and, therefore, in many performance venues.
As a result of the work of anti-tobacco activists, many sectors of society today view cigarette smoking as politically incorrect, health and fire hazard, or just plain taboo.
In IMC meetings, for example, whereas before members conduct meetings under puffs of smoke, they now discuss weekly business in a more healthy atmosphere. Our secretary Prof. Al Leonidas is anti tobacco activist. Through his intense lobbying, IMC’s meeting room is now smoke-free.
I sell magic shows to schools. One selling point that principals and PTA officers warm up to immediately is the absence of tricks or jokes about tobacco or cigarettes in my shows. Along with tricks/gags/patter using (or glorifying or referring to) alcohol, drugs, sex, religion, politics, race and physical disability, cigarette magic now is frowned upon by an increasing number of organizers of family oriented or children shows.
With the cigarette workers’ world becoming constricted by the day, it’s easy to see why cigarette magic, particularly the type of cigarette manipulation popular in Cardini’s hey day, has fallen out vogue.