I wonder if this lighter was one of several reward items, some of which may have appealed more to a non-smoker. But in 1959, it was a pretty good assumption that if you worked in an auto plant, then you probably smoked as well.I worked at Delco Electronics in Kokomo, IN as a co-op student 1984-86 (while attending GMI in Flint), and I'd say that at least half the employees smoked at that time. Of the half that didn't, if you asked them, half of them would reply that they used to smoke.This was a real eye-opener for me, because the smoking rate in the small town I grew up in Eastern WA was very low. I also worked in the Suggestion Department while at Delco Electronics, and good golly there was a lot of politics going on (if your boss doesn't like you, your good idea will likely go nowhere). Some good ideas actually were implemented, but it was the really great ideas (some that could have help turn around GM in the long run) which were NOT implemented that really got to me.
I have one from 1963 it was my great grandfathers.
Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.