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Written by Kevin Godbee

Monday, 23 November 2009

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celebrities and smoking


Throughout the course of history, many a well-known person has enjoyed a premium hand-rolled cigar. And because of their prominence, they often made their love for the leaf well known to all. Unlike today, politicians, actors, athletes, aristocrats, and other noted dignitaries were often seen in public with a smoldering stick of tobacco planted firmly between their lips.

 

While many great aficionados have come and gone, there’s no argument that the greatest cigar smoker of all time has to be none other than Great Britain’s famed Prime Minister, Winston Churchill – the man the Cubans named his favorite sized cigar after. It may sound incredible – let me correct myself – thoroughly unbelievable, but it has been calculated by those nerds who like to calculate, that during the course of his lifetime, old Winnie smoked in excess of 250,00 cigars. That’s right - that’s what I said - a quarter of a million stogies. Good lord, somebody get me a bottle of Febreeze.

 

Churchill smoked his precious cigars wherever he went and he didn’t care for a second who he pissed off. No matter where or what the occasion, he’d light up that big fattie, and if asked to extinguish his smoke, he’d either flat out tell the person NO, or he would just leave. The man was a total selfish bastard about it, but it was his brazen demeanor that made the guy such an effective and respected world leader.

 

"I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form," said Winnie.

 

During World War II, many of the large bomber type warplanes weren’t pressurized and required a breathing apparatus if you were going to fly. Well, not to be denied his prized stogies, Churchill had an oxygen facemask specifically designed to accommodate his mammoth cigars! Again, unbelievable, but documented, and very true. And don’t think he didn’t drive is wife completely insane. The old man ruined so many of his fine silk pajamas while lighting up in his bed, that the Mrs., had a special smoking bib made for him. So, I think you’ll agree that Sir Winston Churchill is without question the most notable cigar smoker of all time.

 

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The most famous psychiatrist the word has ever known, Sigmund Freud, was also a true cigarophile, puffing on fifteen a day. He was known to be obsessed with phallic symbols and when questioned about having a cigar in his mouth, all the live long day, Freud uttered his most famous quote, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” One time after his nephew Harry had declined a cigar, Freud looked to him and said, "My boy! Smoking is one of the greatest and cheapest enjoyments in life, and if you decide in advance not to smoke, I can only feel sorry for you."

Actor and comedian Milton Berle was forever seen with his prized Cuban cigar whether on TV or in a movie. When Berle got wind that JFK was about to ban all Cuban goods from coming to the U.S., Uncle Milty went on an insane buying spree through out Manhattan, gathering up every box of Habanas that he could find and hoarded them in his home until there were no more. And of course, everyone knows the story of President John Kennedy ordering then press secretary, Pierre Salinger to buy up all the boxes of Cuban petite coronas he could find in the Washington, DC area… then signed the infamous Cuban embargo.

 

Many of our leaders were known for their unmitigated stogie love. Civil War hero, Ulysses S. Grant was a twenty a day toker. You’d think these guys would have to travel with cases of industrial strength Listerine. And of course, there’s our 42nd president, William Jefferson Clinton, whose cigars found a bit of extra curricular use that made a chubby lil’ intern the toast of the town. Fortunately for Slick Willie, he had such a wonderful and understanding wife there to console him.

 

Chocolate magnate and philanthropist, Milton Hershey was a huge lover of fine cigars. Back in the early twentieth century, Hershey traveled regularly to the isle of Cuba to purchase the sugar cane for his world-renown milk chocolate, and that’s where he developed his life-long love affair with finely aged tobacco. Writer Rudyard Kipling even wrote a famous poem about his undying passion for the leaf. The Betrothed was about the difficult decision of choosing between the woman he loved, or the cigars he apparently loved even more. “And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear, but I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year.” It’s no contest if you ask me. In fact, it was Groucho Marx who said it best, “Given the choice between a woman and a cigar, I will always choose the cigar.”

 

Like I said, so many great men have had a love for the leaf like nothing else in their lives. How could we forget George Burns, the great entertainer who lived to be one-hundred years of age. The man who made us laugh smoked ten to fifteen sticks per day for a good eighty years of his life. While Burns was quoted a number of times about his pure love for cigars, my personal favorite has always been, “If I had taken my doctors advice to quit smoking, I wouldn’t have lived to go to his funeral.” But then there’s always, “I smoke ten to fifteen cigars a day. At my age I have to hold on to something.” And, “Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman - or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.”

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There are many cigar quotes over time, one better than the next. Mark Twin loved his stogies and had a few good ones. “I ordinarily smoke fifteen cigars during my five hours' of labor, and if my interest reaches the enthusiastic point, I smoke more. I smoke with all my might, and allow no intervals." And, "I smoke in moderation. Only one cigar at a time.”… “Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man's enjoyment of his cigar.” And his most famous line, “If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go.”

 

So many men of prominence have professed their love for a good cigar. If only these great cigar smokers of yesterday were still here to carry on with their passion in public, so we could all unite and tell the smoke Nazis of this world where to stick a freshly lit stogie.

 






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