Tobacco Free Florida Week: Team Up to Quit

Team_Up Team Up to Quit is the 2014 theme of the 6th annual Tobacco Free Florida Week April 21-27 currently in progress.  It encourages tobacco users to partner with their doctor as those who do are more successful in their quit attempts.  While everyone should know that tobacco is bad for your health, here some reasons why now is a good time to have that conversation.

Did you know smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body?  Smoking doesn’t just affect the lungs, it affects the entire body, including the heart, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, and reproductive systems of both men and women.   And if you get cancer, did you also know smoking may keep cancer treatments from working as well as they should?

Did you know that smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD)?  Even a person smoking fewer than 5 cigarettes a day can show signs of early stages of this disease. The more cigarettes and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk.  CVD includes narrow or blocked arteries in and around the heart (coronary heart disease), high blood pressure, heart attack, and heart-related chest pain (angina).  Did you know that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause these same diseases in non-smokers?

Did you know smoking causes peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) by narrowing blood vessels and reducing the flow of blood?   According to the American College of Cardiologists, “the risk of developing the disease is as much as three times higher for people who smoke as that of non-smokers.” People with PAD or PVD may have pain when they walk and the cells can die from a lack of oxygen if left untreated.  Gangrene could then develop in fingers and toes and the infected body part will have to be removed.  It appears that non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke are also at an increased risk for PAD.  A Chinese study on women found “a 67% increased risk of PAD in those exposed to secondhand smoke compared to those who were not exposed.”

Did you know smoking can cause coronary heart disease, stroke or abdominal aortic aneurysm?   Chemicals in cigarette smoke causes some of the oxygen in the blood to be replaced with carbon monoxide which causes the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries.   Smoking also promotes the formation of plaque in the walls of arteries and clots can form where there is plaque.  If the arteries are already narrowed from smoking, these clots can block the arteries, and oxygen to nearby organs is cut off.  This blockage can lead to a heart attack and sudden death.  Strokes can happen when arteries that carry blood to the brain become blocked from a narrowing or a clot causing the blood vessel to leak or burst inside the brain.  Smoking is a known cause of early hardening of the abdominal aorta which supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs.  If a rupture happens, it causes life-threatening bleeding.  Almost all deaths from abdominal aortic aneurysm are caused by smoking and other tobacco use.  Women smokers have a higher risk of dying from this than men. diabetesDid you know that smoking causes type 2 diabetes?  If you smoke, you are 30% to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.  Smokers are likely to have more trouble regulating insulin and controlling the disease.  According to the Philip Morris website, the third ingredient in Marlboro cigarettes by weight is…SUGAR, including sucrose and/or invert sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup.  Did you know smokeless tobacco also contains high amounts of sugar added to make the product taste good? Did you know, according to the 2012 Surgeon General report “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” that tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic, not only in the U.S. but around the world?   Did you know that “school based programs with specific components, can produce at least short-term effects and reduce the prevalence of tobacco use among school-aged youth?”  Did you know that “early signs of heart disease and stroke can be found in adolescents who smoke?”  Did you know that children and teens “who smoke 2 or 3 cigarettes a day can get hooked in as short as two weeks?”  Did you know children and teens who smoke are more likely to develop asthma, have reduced lung function and impaired lung growth?   Disease caused by smoking is not just for older smokers. Did you know that the benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately?  Within one year, “the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.”  Within five years “risks of certain cancers are cut in half.”  Stroke risk can equal that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years of quitting.  After 15 years of quitting “the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.” Did you make the appointment with your doctor yet?  What are you waiting for?

Posted in Cigarettes, Diseases, Second Hand Smoke, Smokeless tobacco, Smoking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida HB 169

Seal_of_FloridaA local Tobacco Control Advocate shared the following information about Florida Bill HB 169.  The original bill was written to control the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, but in a last minute maneuver was amended to now establish a pre-emption of all activities on the local level in the retail tobacco environment.

HB 169, which was originally drafted as a bill to address sales of e-cigarettes to minors, has been amended to now establish pre-emption of all activities on the local level in the retail tobacco environment.

This bill, if passed, would have devastating consequences on tobacco control efforts in the state of Florida. The inserted preemptive language would not only prevent local municipalities and counties from passing stronger ordinances which restrict the sales of electronic cigarettes in the future, it would also undo the current ordinances that have been passed around the state.  Additionally, it would overturn existing product placement ordinances, including the Palm Beach County Product Placement Ordinance which has been in place since 2001.

It is time we stopped letting the tobacco industry decide what policies pass in our communities. A Talking Points guide has been provided to Florida advocates by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK). The Tobacco Free Partnership of Palm Beach County is providing you with the following additional points regarding information to help you make an informed decision on this matter:

· Preemption is a tactic that has been used by the tobacco industry since 1985 to suppress local tobacco control efforts in Florida.

· Local ordinances in place regarding product placement are stronger than the minimum standards required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Such ordinances have been successful at keeping tobacco products out of the hands of underage youth.

· It is important that local governments maintain the right to effective address tobacco prevention and control issues in their communities.

· Data from the 2012 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey shows that since 1998, the prevalence of cigarette smoking has decreased 63.1 percent among high school students and 82.2 percent among middle school students, thanks to statewide and local efforts in the form of policy change and initiatives.

Please share this information with all of your community partners, family members, friends, and other individuals who you feel need to be informed about this matter to protect our youth and communities from tobacco industry influence.

Posted in Big Tobacco, Legal, Smokeless tobacco, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tobacco Sponsorship at SXSW

When Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act in 1970, it meant the end of cigarette advertising on television and radio, and the beginning of warning labels on cigarettes.   The warning labels were found to be insufficient so another law, the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act was put into effect in 1984, requiring that warning labels be more specific, be different, and rotate every three months.

Virginia_Slims_SeriesThe cigarettes ads stopped airing on television and radio, but sponsorships of sporting events continued on, offering their own form of advertising.   In 2010, even those came to an end when the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law prohibiting “tobacco companies from sponsoring sports, music, and other cultural events.”  Why is any of this important?  While tobacco products such as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are not allowed to sponsor sports, music and “other cultural events,” apparently electronic cigarette companies are not being held to the same standards, even if they are owned by same tobacco companies which are not allowed.

During the recent South by Southwest 2014 (SXSW) in Austin, Texas held in March, VUSE Digital Vapor Cigarette was named the official e-cigarette sponsor.  VUSE is produced by the R. J. Reynolds Vapor Company, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc, a tobacco company.  Their official press release states they want to redefine “enjoyment for adult tobacco consumers,” and states their “brand representatives will be interacting with age-verified adult tobacco consumers at several festival events.”  The product is hyped as “state-of-art, digital technology,” and a “game-changer.”

This festival is huge, combining music, film and high-tech companies, and attracting “approximately 47,000 registrants to Austin every March,” along with a trade show, and over 2,000 acts at over 100 venues.  It is a prime opportunity to pitch a product that hasn’t been on the market long enough for people to know the hidden dangers to their health, but are taken by the modern design and the hype of the product on social media outlets such as Facebook which are used by millions of youth under 18.  (Vuse Vapor joined Facebook in early 2014.)

Perhaps we need to start by enforcing the law that says a cigarette company is not allowed to sponsor a music event like they did at SXSW when an unnamed tobacco company sponsored a show in a “secret” location and provided free “stuff.”  Granted attendees were supposed to be over 21+ and show a valid U.S. ID, but any free products could be given to others.  The next step is to close the loopholes so no sponsorships of tobacco products also mean no sponsorship of nicotine delivery products, the part of the product that addicts its users.  The tobacco industry shouldn’t be above the law especially since their products are the only consumer products that kill their users when used as directed.

The Virginia Slims ad above came from HERE.


Posted in Big Tobacco, Cigarettes, Legal, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slim and Sex Sell Smoking

Lucky_Strike1The tobacco industry seems to always be Lucky_Strike2pushing “slim” even as far back as the 1920s when screen stars were used to advertise cigarettes, and the “heartless shadow” of becoming- overweight-because- you-didn’t-smoke threatened your future.


Virgina_SlimsDuring the 1970s the industry picked up the Silva_Thinsthin theme again, making a cigarette that had evolved just for women, “tailored slim to fit your hands and your lips.”  And if that wasn’t enough, Silva Thins ads took the slim theme further by implying the “best ones,” both cigarettes and women, are not only thin, but rich as well, and pushed the “rich” theme by offering silverplated flatware.

Blu_001It may be the 21st Century, but old ideas are new again as the electronic cigarette industry is taking a page out of Big Tobacco’s idea book. Not only are they pushing the “slim” theme to promote the newest smoking trend, but going modern and using sex to sell their products.  Blu has their barely clothed, ultra slim (and most definitely photo shopped) model in a tiny bikini bottom. Look carefully (no, not at her, down at the bottom of the page) and you will notice no health warnings about the dangers of nicotine.  The well-placed ad in the March 2014 Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is just in time for the college and high school spring break season.

TrystTryst electronic cigarettes may be selling a modern product, but are promoting them with an old fashioned, almost 1950s sort of sexy retro, sultry pin up girl on the packages.  As you enjoy their five smoking products, you can “savor the secret” of your Tryst in classic tobacco and menthol, a Shisha for female smokers, cigar style, as well as hookha style.  Once again, no warning on the label about the dangers of nicotine, but maybe that is their secret.

It should be noted both Blu and Tryst call their e-cigarettes, “smoking products,” not vapor products, which may cause some teens not to use them because they don’t want to smoke.  Then again, probably not.

Click HERE to read more information on new tobacco industry products from Trinkets & Trash.  Click HERE to see more tobacco advertising pictures from the Impact of Tobacco Advertising from the Stanford School of Medicine.








Posted in Big Tobacco, Cigarettes, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nicotine Adds to the Harm

1st_SGRIn 1964 the first Surgeon General’s report on Smoking and Health was published linking cigarette smoking as “the principal cause of cancer of the lungs and the larynx, and a health hazard so grave as to call for remedial action.”  Nicotine was mentioned as a reinforcing factor in the drive to smoke, but it was viewed as a habit rather than an addiction.  Now 50 years and 31 Surgeon General’s Reports later we have a better understanding of the harm caused by smoking and know that nicotine plays an important part in adding to that harm.

Whether you light up a traditional cigarette, cigar or pipe, or inhale vapor from one of the many new electronic devices, you are inhaling a toxic substance called nicotine.  It “takes just 4 seconds to reach your blood stream and about 10 seconds for it to reach the brain.”  And by altering the design of the cigarette which increased “the amount of nicotine levels delivered via smoke” by as much at 15% between 1998 and 2012, the tobacco industry was able to make it more difficult for smokers to kick their habit.

Each and every time you inhale nicotine, your brain is releasing dopamine or epinephrine, your heart rate is increasing, your blood pressure is increasing and your blood vessels are being constricted or narrowed.  The effects hit you fast and wear off quickly, making you reach for the drug delivery system again.  Over time your body develops a tolerance to nicotine and you need to increase the dosage, or smoke more to get the same enjoyment.  While the effects of nicotine on your body wear off, the effects on your heart and blood pressure could leave you with congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and hypertension or high blood pressure.

vapingE-cigarettes may not have all the chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, but nicotine is still present and could cause heart problems. E-device users have the added potential of inhaling the mist that is produced by the device deep into their lungs which could cause pneumonia.  And since e-devices are not currently regulated by the FDA, users do not know the amount of nicotine they are receiving, as well as what other added chemicals are in the cartridge, and what is in the flavorings.

Big tobacco is stepping up their efforts to hook new users into a life-long addiction with novelty products and promises they are safe.  Sounds like the same tactics they used with cigarettes, and look how long it took before the truth came out.  If smoking without harm sounds too good to be true, it probably is.






Posted in Cigarettes, Diseases, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nicotine Delivery Devices in Florida

Since 2011, the use of electronic cigarettes by Florida high school students has increased over 100% as teens continue to experiment with the devices and retailers grapple about whether they fall under the tobacco selling guidelines.  Local communities have worked to halt sales of e-cigarettes to underage users through ordinances, but their hands are tied as preemptive tobacco laws in Florida take the side of tobacco and not the side of citizens.

Rep. Renuart

Rep. Renuart

Rep. Artiles

Rep. Artiles

In October 2013, Florida Representatives Ronald “Doc” Renuart (District 17 – St. Johns) and Frank Artiles (District 118 – Miami-Dade)  became co-sponsors of two bills that would address electronic nicotine delivery devices.  Both bills prohibit giving nicotine dispensing devices to those under 18 under any condition, whether by sale, barter or gift, and prohibit those under 18 years of age from possessing and purchasing the devices.  You can read the actual wording of the bill on the link above.  Artiles bill HB 169 would apply penalties.

When HB 169 was heard in the House Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee, they removed the language “alternative nicotine products” and inserted “nicotine dispensing devices” using a strike-all amendment.  In an attempt to close a loophole that would allow the sale of vials of liquid nicotine to minors, Representative Darryl Rouson filed an additional amendment.

Less than 15 hours before the bill was to be heard on March 11 at 12:30 PM, Rep. Renuart filed a strike-all amendment adding the liquid nicotine amendment AND an additional preemptive clause that reads:

569.14 (7): “REGULATION OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS PREEMPTED TO STATE – This part expressly preempts regulation of products and activities, covered by this chapter to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject.”

By activities does this mean the distribution and selling of nicotine dispensing devices, or does it include activities such as our SWAT clubs which help educate our Florida youth about tobacco?

Tobacco and smoking legislation are already preempted by state law in Florida, meaning no municipality can pass a law with more control than what the state has already set.   Uniformity of laws across the state make it easier to administer and govern, but preemption also means local communities have their hands tied when new tobacco products hit the market, and our state cannot react quickly enough to protect our youth.

Contact the Representatives who sit on the committee and voice your concern “that the preemption clause will limit the scope of Florida’s very effective youth tobacco prevention program.”  Click here for the Representatives.

Posted in Smokeless tobacco, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Europe to Place More Restrictions on Smoking

While we in the U.S. are still trying to place restrictions on electronic cigarette sales to minors, the European Parliament has voted in heavy restrictions on cigarettes and electronic cigarettes in the coming years.  Bans on flavorings, including menthol, and package size and limits on nicotine levels will be voted on in March and expected to be implemented in May 2014.  These new rules are being put into place to “deter young people from experimenting with, and becoming addicted to, tobacco.”  Can the United States follow their lead?

The EU bill, which originally wanted an “immediate ban” on menthols, will phase them out by 2022 because they are “consumed more by older smokers and less by younger people.” One British pro-smoking advocate said “removing menthol will do little to deter children from smoking.”  But others say it’s the flavorings which make it easier for youth to handle the act of smoking.   Flavorings in cigarettes, including fruit and vanilla, will also be banned in the clove_cigars_&_cigarettesEU.  The U.S. is already one step ahead of their EU counterparts as flavors in cigarettes, except menthol, have been banned here for several years.   Some makers of flavored cigarettes get around the law by renaming them, and selling them as a lower-taxed cigar.  The picture on the left shows both clove cigarettes and cigars, note there is no difference.  Removing menthol from tobacco would help deter kids smoking in the U.S. as “about half of smokers age 12-17 years reported smoking menthol cigarettes, more so than older smokers (44.8% among adolescents, 30.1% among older adults),” according to  The FDA is currently in the process of considering restricting or banning menthol cigarettes.  Cigarette companies, always one step ahead, are already planning for the ban by adding menthol “balls” to the filter so smokers can still get that cooling effect.  Anything to reduce the number of youth smokers, whether in Europe or in the U.S.,  means that there will be fewer older smokers in the years to come.

lipstick_style_cigarettesRestrictions in the EU will also include the number of cigarettes in a package; all packages must now contain 20 cigarettes versus the smaller, lipstick-style packaging aimed at women and young girls (pictured at left).  “These smaller packs account for 38% of cigarettes sold in the UK.”  According to one pro-smoking advocate, the small packs were “‘an economic necessity’ for some” and the ban “punishes those on low incomes.”  Since cigarettes provide absolutely no health or nutritional value to life, why would anyone, other than the tobacco industry, consider it a necessity at all?

Originally, the European Commission proposed in December that electronic cigarettes be treated as medicinal products with a limit on the nicotine because “the purpose of e-cigarettes is to help people to stop smoking or have yet another alternative to stop smoking,” according to one MEP.  However, the current deal reached allows nicotine content to be 18mg per unit and member states can chose to regulate “e-cigarettes as pharmaceuticals” on their own.  Member states can also “enact national bans on refillable e-cigarettes,” and “if more than 3 members states choose to do so, then the Commission can impose an EU ban in order to maintain the integrity of the single market.”  In the UK, e-cigarettes will be licensed as a medicine by 2016.  Considering the number of youth using e-cigarettes in the U.S., as well as in Florida, has more than doubled in the past two years,  it would seem this is a gateway product to nicotine dependency as students experiment with this new device.

Finally, EU cigarette packs will have new picture warnings that will cover 65% of a pack, front and back, as well as warnings on the top.  The warnings will take affect by 2016.  Although the U.S. was “the first nation to require a health warning on cigarette packages,” our warning labels are one of the smallest and least prominent.  The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act attempted to change that by requiring colored graphic warning labels to cover 50% of the front and back of each pack.  According to lower courts, the labels violated the right to free speech, but the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the 2009 Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals.  The FDA will now have to go through the appropriate steps to get the new labels approved.

Although this new legislation is considered key to reducing the number of Europeans who die from tobacco related issues caused by smoking, a director of Smoke Free Partnership said “it is outrageous to see so many concessions made to an industry that buys its wealth and influence by marketing a deadly product.”  The same could be said about how tobacco is viewed here in the states.

Click here, here and here for the news articles in their entirety.

Posted in Big Tobacco, Cigarettes, International, Legal, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida to End Confusion About E-Cigarettes

Mention electronic cigarettes and you find lovers and haters of a product that has sparked a $1.7 billion industry here in the U.S., and falls into a grey area when it comes to legislation.  The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating products with tobacco, yet e-cigarettes contain none despite its name.  Currently, most federal laws do not cover e-cigarettes.

States are just as confused when it comes to enforcing laws regarding the sales of the product, but they can work faster than the federal government to regulate this  product out of the hands of minors.   Of the states which introduced new legislation in 2013 to clear up e-cigarettes sample1the confusion about e-cigarettes, “Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina passed bills” regarding minors and e-cigarettes.  Other states have worked to add e-cigarettes to the bans already in place on indoor smoking and to limit advertising.  More states are working to discuss bans at their spring legislative sessions.

Florida’s spring legislative session will see measure SB224 brought forward after approval from two committees.  “Nicotine dispensing devices”, which includes e-cigarettes, will be added to the list of tobacco products prohibited for sale to anyone under 18 years of age.  It will also be” illegal for minors to possess such electronic cigarettes and products,” as well as “make it a second-degree misdemeanor to sell e-cigarettes and related products” to them.

According to the spring 2012 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey “3.9% of middle school and 8.4% of high school students have tried electronic cigarettes at least once.”  Compare 2011 figures with those of 2012 and the increases are dramatic; use increased 30.0% among middle school and 40.0% among high school.  When you compare the current 2013 figures with those from 2011, be in for a shock; use has increased by 43.3% among middle school, but a whooping 101.7% among high school students in just two-year time period, and those figures are just from Florida!

National figures for high school students who “reported ever using an e-cigarette” show that use more than doubled between 2011 and 2012; from 4.7% in 2011 to 10.0%  in 2012. with more than 1.78 million students in middle and high school in the U.S. having tried e-cigarettes, according to the CDC.  So why is the e-cigarette craze so troubling to health officials?

Single_useE-cigarettes started out being sold as kits on the internet and mall kiosks by independent retailers.  Since the Big Three (Altria, Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds) got into the market more single-use cheap e-cigarettes are now showing up in convenience stores and are easily accessible to teens, like those pictured to the left and above.   These devices have the look of a regular cigarette or cigar, provide 150-400 puffs of vaporized nicotine (which is like smoking two to three packs of regular cigarettes) and cost about $6.00.  They are a nicotine delivery device that is easily hidden from parents, and produce no tell-tale lingering tobacco smoke smell on clothes or breath.   It is also unclear how much nicotine and other chemicals a user is truly inhaling.

Florida hopes to put their new measure in place to stop the tobacco industry from producing a new generation of nicotine dependent users.  If successful, Florida would become the 28th state to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Click here and here for additional information from the articles used.

Posted in Big Tobacco, Smokeless tobacco, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Tell, Can’t Sell

On Friday, February 21, 2014, the FDA used its regulatory authority over tobacco products for the first time in its history when it halted the sale of a tobacco product.   One of the provisions of the FDA authority is the “prior FDA review and authorization before tobacco companies can market a new or changed product.”  The four products were all Sutra Bidis products: Red, Menthol, Red Cone and Menthol Cone.  According to the manufacturer, they haven’t sold these products in the U.S. in years.

bidis2Bidis (pronounced “bee-dees”) are “thin, hand-rolled cigarettes stuffed with tobacco, wrapped in leaves from a tendu tree and sometimes tired with a colorful string to hold them together.  They come flavored or unflavored.  A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 1.7% of middle school and 2.0% of high school students were current bidi smokers in 2011. According to the 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey bidis have “a higher level of nicotine (3-5x the amount compared to a regular cigarette), carbon monoxide, and tar” than regular cigarettes.   Popular in India and Indonesia, youth in this country smoke them because of their novelty and higher nicotine levels.  They carry the same negative health effects you find with traditional cigarettes, such as cancers, heart disease and COPD.   Here in Florida in 2013, the numbers were higher than the national average with 2.5% of middle school and 5.9% of high school students reporting that they had tried smoking a bidi, kretek, or pipe tobacco at least once.

In the past, tobacco companies were the ones to decide which products were on or off the market.  In 2009 the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave the FDA authority over tobacco which “prohibits the introduction of a new or changed tobacco product unless the manufacturer provides evidence to the FDA that the product is either ‘appropriate for the protection of public health’ or at the very least that it is ‘substantially equivalent’ to a product already on the market and ‘does not pose different questions of public health.’” According to the FDA, the company “failed to give the agency adequate information to allow the products to remain on the market.”

This action by the FDA sends a powerful message to other tobacco companies that the FDA is serious about their “don’t tell, can’t sell” enforcement.

Click the highlighted links through the story.

Posted in Cigarettes, International, Legal, Smoking, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoking in the White House

By George, we are celebrating the birthdays of two of our presidents born this month, although in these modern times it’s more about car sales than presidents.  We have all heard the stories about our first President, such as how George Washington chopped down the cherry tree and later admitted he did so when questioned by his father (no documentation exists to back this up), or how he wore dentures made of wood (not true, but one set were made from “hippopotamus and elephant ivory held together with gold springs”).  One thing is true, for a time George Washington grew tobacco at Mount Vernon before switching to wheat.  He also disliked smoking and eventually stopped.  And while we usually focus on the Presidents during this month, how much is known about the smoking habits of the other inhabitants of the White House?

Mrs. Andrew Jackson

Mrs. Andrew Jackson

Long before rolled tobacco was readily available, pipes were the smoking vehicle of choice for Mrs. Andrew Jackson and Mrs. Zachary Taylor, although Mrs. Jackson died prior to moving to the White House.  Although Dolley Madison was said to use a pipe, she preferred snuff and used it in public.  You never know when the need for nicotine will hit you.

FDR_smokingEleanor Roosevelt only smoked at the end of an official dinner, perhaps to make the female guests comfortable about lighting up.  While many women smoked during this era, many did so in private, so no pictures of Mrs. Roosevelt could be found.  That’s not the case with her husband who was famous for his cigarette holder.

Eisenhower_smokingAccording to the National First Ladies’ Library, Mamie Eisenhower was a smoker as was her husband, Ike; her smoking was in private and once again pictures would not be found.  Her cigarettes were made in her signature “Mamie Pink” with her initials on them.  However, it was Ike who had major health issues because of chain-smoking.  President Eisenhower was a soldier in both WWI and WWII and received free tobacco rations through the military, but actually started smoking during his time at West Point, often two to three packs a day.  By the end of the 1940s, he was up to four packs of cigarettes and was warned by his doctor to cut back to one pack.  He quit smoking cold turkey because “counting his cigarettes was worse than not smoking at all.”  Ike had his first heart attack in 1955, and a stroke in 1957.   By August of 1968, he had had his seventh heart attack and other health issues plagued him.

Jackie_Kennedy_smokingJackie Kennedy was a closet chain-smoker who smoked Newport, Salem, L&Ms, Marlboros or Parliaments, depending on which story you read.  She was careful to keep her smoking private and asked not to be photographed holding a cigarette as it was unladylike, but pictures can be found.   Official White House cigarettes were provided to dinner guests after formal occasions or when people were aboard Air Force One, the President’s official airplane.  JFK was a smoker of cigars and a story on the Cigar Aficionado says he ordered his press secretary to buy up as many of his favorite petite Cuban cigars as he could find.  Once they were purchased, Kennedy signed the Cuban embargo.

Times have changed and attitudes about smoking have too.  The White House no longer provides official cigarettes to guests and has had a smoke ban since the Clinton administration  However, during the recent state dinner in honor of the French President Hollande, one French dinner guest broke that rule as he pulled out his e-cigarette.    Considering guests should follow their hosts’ lead, not only did he defy the ban, he broke protocol.  Not a very good start to relations.

You can read more about other White House smokers here.

Posted in Cigarettes, Diseases, Smoking | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment