Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 09 June 2012

User Rating: / 1

bill clintonjfk
john f. kennedypresidential cigar smokers
warren g. hardingwilliam mckinley

6leadpicIt looks extremely unlikely that we’ll have a cigar smoker in the White House over the next four years. GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion forbids smoking, while democratic President Barack Obama has fought a long fight to kick the cigarette habit. Fortunately, you don’t have to look very hard to find a number of cigar-loving past residents of the Oval Office.








In the earlier days of the Presidency, men who hailed from Southern plantations loved their tobacco and used it in several forms. Both Tennessean Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel smoked cigars, while the President had spittoons installed all over the White House to accommodate his fondness for chewing tobacco.

None of the presidents of the 1800s were more identified with cigars than Ulysses S. Grant, who swept into office after leading the Union to victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War. Grant’s habit increased during the war until he was puffing 20 cigars a day. His love for his smokes inspired his 1868 campaign song, “A Smokin’ His Cigar.” We’re not likely to hear another campaign song like that nowadays.


Wealthy twenty-first president Chester Arthur loved his cigars and champagne, while Benjamin Harrison was kept supplied with free cigars by a tabacconist in his hometown of Indianapolis.

William McKinley enjoyed smoking his cigars in private, but never allowed himself to be seen indulging in public. William Howard Taft kicked the habit while in office, which was probably a good idea, since he weighed three hundred pounds. Hopefully, he went on a diet, too.

Warren G. Harding brought his treasured cigar humidor to Washington from his Ohio home, while Herbert Hoover smoked heavily to handle the pressure put on him by the Great Depression. Calvin Coolidge was a true cigar aficionado who preferred foot-long supercoronas and could smoke three in one sitting. Alas, both FDR and Eisenhower preferred cigarettes.

That brings us to the most famous cigar-smoking president—John F. Kennedy.
It seems ironic that the POTUS who had the greatest fondness for Cuban cigars was the one who had to sign the embargo preventing any more of them from entering the country. In 1962, JFK had a fondness for Petit Upmanns from Cuba, a country with which the U.S. had major problems. Less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, was becoming a threat to America’s national security.


Years later, Kennedy’s press secretary Pierre Salinger related this story:

“In April, 1961, the United States went through the disastrous error of the Bay of Pigs, where Cuban exiles with the help of the United States government tried to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Several months later, the President called me into his office in the early evening.”

‘Pierre, I need some help,’ he said solemnly.
‘I’ll be glad to do anything I can Mr. President,’ I replied.
‘I need a lot of cigars.’
‘How many, Mr. President?’
‘About 1,000 Petit Upmanns.’


“I shuddered a bit, although I kept my reaction to myself. ‘And, when do you need them, Mr. President?’
‘Tomorrow morning.’

“I walked out of the office wondering if I would succeed. But since I was now a solid Cuban cigar smoker, I knew a lot of stores, and I worked on the problem into the evening.

“The next morning, I walked into my White House office at about 8 a.m., and the direct line from the President's office was already ringing. He asked me to come in immediately.


“’How did you do Pierre?’ he asked, as I walked through the door.
“‘Very well,’ I answered. In fact, I’d gotten 1,200 cigars. Kennedy smiled, and opened up his desk. He took out a long paper, which he immediately signed. It was the decree banning all Cuban products from the United States. Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country.”

Saadly, they still are fifty years later, and even more sadly, it’s unlikely that Kennedy had the chance to smoke all of those Petit Upmanns before his assassination the next year.

None of the subsequent White House residents shared the appetite for cigars that their forerunners had enjoyed, although Bill Clinton did enjoy chomping on one while playing golf. He didn’t get to smoke them around the house, since wife Hillary had banned tobacco use from the premises.


Then, of course, there’s the ribald story coming out of the Monica Lewinsky scandal that almost toppled Clinton’s presidency. This could very well be an urban legend, but during their affair, the President and the intern allegedly used a cigar as a sex toy.

After surviving quadruple bypass surgery, Clinton became a vegan, so he’s not likely to be seen smoking anything—or eating at Burger King.

While the recent and future presidents may be setting a better example for the nation’s youth than those who came before, they aren’t nearly as colorful.


0 # George W Bush Smokes CigarsTravis Lindsay 2012-06-11 01:44
George W Bush and, I think, George HW Bush also smoke cigars. Here's the link for W's smoking.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Maybe a better choiceRoger D Metoxen 2012-06-21 01:50
I read on more than one occasion JFKs choice of cigars to aquire were the machine rolled version of those H.Upmans. I think it's sorta sad and very funny that of ALL the 'other choices ( He at least should have gotten the hand rolled version ) he would pick what he picked Pardon me I don't mean to knock H.Upman in anyway. It makes me wonder if he was 'Really ' a cigar smoker to begin with.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # The Presidential CigarMike Choi 2012-06-29 07:52
I've seen that President Reagan used to hand out cigars with the presidential band on it. Does anyone know who made them, the blend or the flavour?

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment

Security code


Sign Up to our


Member Cigar Reviews | Staff Cigar Reviews | Cigar Videos | One on One Interviews | Cigar News | Puffcast | Cigar Forums | Lifestyle | Partners | Contact
© 2015 by Caputo Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms of Service - Privacy Policy - Ad Blockers Suck! Why? Daily Digest

Thank you for your interest in the Daily Digest. Get notified of all new content on in our free Daily Digest. To subscribe, enter your email address below and click the subscribe button.

Email Address:

Email will come from "". Please whitelist this email address.

Cancel and Return to page