A few years ago, I found some vintage figural "smoker" ashtrays at an estate sale. Then, the hunt was on. Here's an example of one of my favorites.
This cute little "sailor" is a vintage porcelain figural smoker ashtray. When a cigarette is placed in one of the holes, at the bottom of the ashtray, smoke comes out his mouth. This figure is made of porcelain and is about 5" tall. It's marked on the bottom "UCAGCO China, Made in Japan". As you can see, it's in excellent condition.
Novelty figural smoker ashtrays can be found in a number of subjects such as farmers, sailors, clowns, bums, etc. I've also seen dogs, cats and other animal smokers. They were made in Japan in the 1950s-1960s. Most are made of porcelain, bisque or ceramic, but some are made of red clay. Some of the little smokers were sold as souvenirs, advertising tourist attractions. They have been found with original paper labels.
Today, vintage figural smoker ashtrays are highly sought after by collectors of tobacciana. They're collected by both smokers and non-smokers.
Figural smoker ashtrays can be found at estate sales, antique shops, collectible trade shows, flea markets, second hand shops and on-line. One of the easiest places to find "smokers" is on E-Bay, an on-line marketplace.
The price of smoker ashtrays will vary depending on subject, rarity and condition. Most are priced between $20-35, however the most desirable smoker ashtrays will bring considerably more.
Update On Dec 04, 2009: Just added some additional photos. The closeup of the smoker's face shows where the smoke comes out of the mouth. The other photo shows an antique figural "Farmer" ashtray beside the "Sailor" ashtray. Both are great examples of smoker ashtrays made in Japan.