Presidents Who Smoked Cigarettes

The tobacco was introduced to US in the 17th century. During the evolution of the tobacco industry, politics has been deeply involved in the development in this important field. People and media were interested in whether the presidents smoked and if smoked, what brands did they use, what style did they like etc. In this article, I discuss the presidents who smoked and stories related to their smoking.

President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

President Jackson smoked
President Jackson

President Jackson once said, “Doctor, I can do anything you think proper, except give up coffee and tobacco.” His favorite time was sat in his rocking chair and consumed two cigarettes every evening.

President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)

President Grant may be the number one president associated with cigarettes. He smoked twenty cigars a day. The two-term president enjoyed illustrating with his beloved cigar. When he suffered from depression, he wrote that he was so unhappy that he had “not smoked a cigar.”

President Grant smoked
President Grant

Tobacco was his chief solace. His friends knew this and sent him thousand boxes of cigarettes. He continued the habit in his lifetime.

President Grant died of throat cancer.

President Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

President Hoover smoked
President Hoover

President Hoover enjoyed smoking cigars. However, he refused to allow photographs while cigar smoking. During his presidency, it started to realize tobacco smoking causes illnesses like cancer and emphysema. He worried that young people who smoked cigarettes were under the influence of a dangerous drug and were prone to criminal acts of violence.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)

President Roosevelt smoked
President Roosevelt

President Roosevelt loved cigarettes. He was often seen holding cigarette at his hand in the public.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

President Eisenhower smoked
President Eisenhower

President Eisenhower was a heavy smoker. His personal physician suggested that he would have to cut down his smoking from four packs of cigarettes per day to one pack. After a few days of limiting his smoking, He decided that counting his cigarettes was worse than not smoking at all, and he quit. He never had another cigarette in his life. He was frequently asked how he did it; he replied that it was simple, all he did was put smoking out of his mind.

President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

President Kennedy smoked
President Kennedy

President Kennedy was a social smoker. He preferred small cigars. Numerous photos show him smoking such a cigar. There was also the legendary story of Kennedy’s orders to Press Secretary Pierre Salinger to go out and find as many of his favorite H. Upmann Petit Coronas before the president signed the Cuban trade embargo (see CIGAR AFICIONADO, Vol. 1, No. 1). Salinger found nearly 1,200 of the cigars, bought them, and reported the purchase to Kennedy. The President promptly signed the embargo.

President Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974)

President Nixon smoked
President Nixon

President Nixon was a social smoker and enjoyed ritualistic cigar puffing as a statesmanlike gesture with other leaders. The Nixon administration in the early ’70s was the last stand of the cigar at the White House. Besides being the last president to smoke cigars, he was the last presidency during which cigars were offered to men after dinner in the Green Room.

President Gerald R. Ford (1974-1977)

President Ford smoked
President Ford

President Ford loved pipe smoker. He preferred a small and easy to carry pipe and his favorite tobaccos were Field & Stream and Walnut. He smoked eight pipes of tobacco a day. He was the last U.S. president to use tobacco on a regular basis. He quit smoking late.

President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

President Reagan Smoked
President Reagan

President Reagan was a social smoker. He had been a smoker, but quit when his brother developed cancer due to smoking. Long before Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States, he was an actor. Like many actors in the ’40s & ’50s, he endorsed cigarettes.

President Barack H. Obama (2009-2017)

President Obama Smoked
President Obama

President Obama has been smoking since he was a college freshman. His favorite brand is Marboro Red. During the peak of his smoking days, he had seven or eight cigarettes a day. He quit smoking before his run for president in 2008.

In the modern era, Truman, Carter, Clinton, and the Bushes are the smoke-free presidents. President Trump never smokes.

As of 2018, there are 44 presidents in US history. Among them, there are 10 smokers and most of them were considered social smokers. President Grant was a chain smoker and he finally died of throat cancer.

In 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The law allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco as a drug. The Center for Tobacco Products under FDA oversee the regulation.

The Bill bans candy-flavored cigarettes, requires the full disclosure to the FDA of all ingredients and additives in cigarettes, bans youth-focused marketing of cigarettes (such as sponsorship of sporting events and clothing and cigarette giveaways), prohibits the use of misleading terms like “light” and “mild” on tobacco products, and mandates new and stronger warning labels on tobacco products.

The legislation does not ban tobacco products and allow adults to make their own choices.

Right around the time President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the tobacco industry underwent a new revolution, the booming electronic cigarettes in the US and around world.

Electronic cigarettes are relatively safer than the traditional tobacco smoking, since the electronic cigarette aerosol contains fewer toxic chemicals and at much lower concentrations.

The electronic cigarettes or vaping industry evolves rapidly and becomes multi-billion-dollar enterprise. It is a nice idea to tout electronic cigarettes as a way to help people quit traditional tobacco smoking. There are indeed a lot of testimonials that electronic cigarette has helped people quit smoking.

Electronic cigarette industry is still in his budding stage. Rebrandsmoking and his parent company, Kcancer, are interested in following the development of the industry, witnessing its impact on human health, and welcoming another revolution in the future. Our presidents will certainly play a presidential role in the evolution of the tobacco industry.

20 thoughts on “Presidents Who Smoked Cigarettes

  1. Anthony,

    Wow, I wasn’t aware that so many past presidents were smokers. I think many years ago, smoking was socially acceptable. Things have really changed for the better. Thanks for an insightful post.

    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for stopping by. Smoking was a social tool some time ago. Since it was concluded that smoking causes diseases, campaigns against smoking are inscribed into people’s mind and nowadays few people smoke in the public, which is good signs for public health.

  2. This is interesting information. I am actually surprised that more of our early Presidents were not smokers, especially those from Southern tobacco states. I liked seeing that Hoover had social awareness about the example of his smoking. I had no idea the health impacts of smoking were beginning to be known way back in the 30’s. That really irritates me, that the information was kept hidden for so long, while there were ads appearing with doctors recommending different brands.

    1. Hi Anne,
      You raised a very good question, why the information of smoking affect people’s health negatively was kept secretly for so long? It was mixture politics, economics, and interest group, who controlled many parts of the national machine. Even under the current environment, the tobacco industry try to promote smoking, not only to adults, but also to people of young age, even though they know that smoking is bad to health. We all need to stand up against smoking.

  3. I was not aware of the smoking habits or our presidents although I did know Obama smoked. I suppose the fact that most did not smoke on camera or being photographed while smoking is the reason we do not know this.

    1. Hi Craig,
      You are right that most of the famous people smoke secretly, since it was well-established that smoking is detrimental to human health. As a head of our nation, it could be bad example for smoking publicly. As a president, Obama didn’t smoke publicly, but there were many reports showing Obama smoking.

  4. It comes as no surprise that several Presidents smoked. They were all human after all. The truth is everyone is going to do what they want to do. The belief that no one is going to tell me how to live my life.

    1. Hi Brittaney,
      This is the point that smokers argue against quitting smoking. It is my business and my freedom, not your business. As matter of fact, smoking affects everyone. Besides the direct toxin to the smokers, there are 2nd hand and 3rd hand smoking, which affect people surround the smokers. Smokers violate other people’s right to be health.

  5. I had no idea how many of our previous presidents smoked. That’s quite a large number, but could also be representative of the previous eras of these presidents. I know, with both of my parents, they both smoked cigarettes and my dad, in the evening, would switch to a pipe.

    Smoking and enjoying a cocktail or two “was the thing to do” in those days.

    I never smoked, thankfully.

    Great article, Anthony. Thank you!

    1. Hi Sue,
      Thank you very much for sharing your personal experience with us. As you mentioned, smoking was as routine as drink tea in the old day. Presidents were social and smoking were part of social activities. Fortunately, only 10 out of 44 presidents were smokers and this number may slightly lower than overall ratio. Even today, there are about 20% world’s population who are smokers.

  6. I am not aware many US presidents are smokers and I am happy to see one of my favorite is not on the list….. Abraham Lincoln!

    Many consider smoking as a style in my country, Although there is a warning in the pack they buy still they are smoking makes me wondering on it….

    Your Friend,
    Paul

    1. Hi Paul,
      You are right that most of presidents smoked in the era when smoking was considered as a social etiquette, an honor to have a cigarette after dinner. Nowadays it is an approved fact that smoking is dangerous to human health and president or any one holding high rank position in government or private company should be example of smoke free.
      By the way, which country are you in? Could you tell us more about smoking in your country?

      1. Dear Anthony,

        Thanks for the information and helpful.

        I am from India. Here they say or we have a rule smoking in public is prohibited but you will wonder if there is such a rule because people smoke in public. Although it states “Smoking is injurious to health” people are not worried. I wonder why the govt is allowing these things to sell although they are aware its causing harm to humans. Why they are not banning it? Its not about people health its about the income they get is more important. Feeling bad.

        Your Friend,
        Paul

        1. Hi Paul,
          Smoking has a long history and involves politics, economics and health industries. Even though we know that tobacco smoking is dangerous to human health, the tobacco and interest group try to refute such factors and think about their own economic benefits, which is sad as you mentioned. Education is key in terms of quitting smoking. This is why we have this website and we wish more and more people realize the danger of tobacco smoking and take actions. I am confident that there is tobacco free world soon, if we all work together.

  7. Oh wow, Anthony.
    Awesome article! I was definitely NOT aware of all these American Presidents who smoked. A very eye-opening read. It just goes to show that smoking has been fashionable for a long time and even among the elite as well as the not so wealthy. It also goes to show that even the more educated people still may have access to information about better health and they still do not take advantage of it.
    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading it.
    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for stopping by and and your supports. Most of the presidents smoked in the time when smoking was considered to be social etiquette. At the current time, few presidents smoked. As a nation’s leader, he need to be an example. President Trump never smoke tobacco cigarettes. Among the modern presidents, only President Obama smoker, but he quit smoking before running for president.

  8. Back in the days, you considered a man when you are puffing away. We have come a long way since then. Many friends and family, including my father, died because of tobacco cigarettes. So glad that we are getting health conscious in today’s world.

    Even here in New York, with the banning of smoking indoors, including restaurants and bars had made many stop smoking or shift to electronic smoking. thank you for building a website to make others aware and provide a solution. Thank you for enlightening us.

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you for your stopping by, your supports and your sharing your personal experience on tobacco smoking.

      We witness the progress on quitting smoking. More and more people realize the danger of tobacco smoking. With new technology, we have healthier alternative ones, such as electronic cigarettes. Let’s all work together to create a tobacco free world.

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