The 5 Best People To Ever Smoke Cigarettes

Proof that even the best of us are susceptible to addiction...

1. J. K. Rowling

Not only did J. K. Rowling create the Harry Potter universe, she did it while smoking so much that she experienced symptoms of nicotine overdose [1]. Rowling had been smoking since her teen years where she was frequently caught smoking at bus stops with boys in leather jackets [2]. But the author quit smoking in 2000 with a combination of nicotine gum and the popular game, Candy Crush, to keep her mind occupied when she'd otherwise be giving in to cigarette cravings [3].

2. Oscar Wilde

The Irish poet and playwright was also a chain-smoking cigarette addict. He wrote of smoking that, “a man should always have an occupation of some kind,” and once told his brother, “I am greatly distressed to hear you... are smoking American cigarettes. You really must not do anything so horrid. Charming people should smoke gold-tipped cigarettes or die...” Notoriously ill and frail himself, we suspect Oscar Wilde's health may have been stronger without the tobacco. Some vandals seem to agree – a statue of Wilde in London has repeatedly had the bronze cigarette ripped out of its hand, allegedly by anti-smoking, health advocates [4].

3. Walt Disney

Walt started chain-smoking when he was an ambulance driver in the First World War and could never kick the habit. He allegedly went through three packs of unfiltered cigarettes per day while working on Disney's quintessential animated features, but was strict with never smoking around children. Publicity photos of Walt were airbrushed to hide his habit, giving the illusion of his infamous “two finger salute” that was actually just his hand gesturing while holding a cigarette between his fingers [5]. Walt died from lung cancer at the age of 65 and Disney recently prohibited the creators of the Walt biopic, Saving Mr Banks, from depicting their founder as a smoker. In 2015, Disney declared it would no longer be featuring any characters that smoke [6].

4. The Beatles

Okay, there were four of them but we're counting the Beatles as one entity! You'd be hard pressed to find footage of interviews, press conferences or even official movies where the Fab Four aren't smoking cigarettes. All of the Beatles were fans of American Marlboros in their early days but by the time of his death, John Lennon had switched to a heavy duty French cigarillo brand called Gauloises. He attempted to stop smoking in the 1970s from the advice of his therapist, but his efforts never stuck [7].

Paul McCartney quit in the late 1980s after he collapsed in a recording studio due to a bronchial spasm that was triggered by smoking cigarettes. Ringo Starr allegedly also quit in the 1980s during a stint in rehab [8]. George Harrison went through four packs a day and only stopped when he was diagnosed with smoking-related cancers. He battled the disease for decades before dying in 2001.

5. Albert Einstein

That's right – one of history's greatest geniuses was addicted to smoking tobacco. While he was most frequently seen with a pipe, he succumbed to smoking cigarettes when he received doctor's orders to quit his pipe – he even went so far as to pick up cigarette butts off the street. Einstein credited tobacco as aiding his discovery of the theory of relativity, suggesting that smoking “contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” His doctors disagreed and told him to give up the pipe for his health. Einstein died in 1955 from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The Worst People to Have Ever Smoked Cigarettes

Here are the bad guys who really make smoking cigarettes look terrible.

1. Joseph Goebbels

While Adolph Hitler was vehemently anti-smoking, his right hand man Joseph Goebbels was addicted to cigarettes. In his position as Reichsminister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment, Goebbels actually blocked a media campaign against smoking that Hitler himself had designed [9]. While hiding from Allied Forces in a bunker with Hitler during the last days of the war, Goebbels and other cigarette addicts would sneak out into the smouldering ruins of Berlin for a smoke [10].

2. Kim Jong-Un

This North Korean dictator is a notorious chainsmoker who has been responsible for North Korea's systematic human rights abuses, prison camps, population enslavement, illegal ballistic missile and nuclear weapon testing, executions of his own family members, amongst other terrifying dictator behaviour [11].

3. Charles Manson

The psychopath and cult leader behind the Helter Skelter serial murders in the late 1960s had been a smoker since he was a kid [12]. In 2013, he was still itching for a cigarette from his solitary confinement in prison [13]. He died in 2017 from respiratory distress and colon cancer.

4. Joseph Stalin

What Joseph Stalin actually smoked in his iconic pipe was cigarette tobacco. He had grown to love the taste of high-tar Herzegovina Flor cigarettes (renamed “Stalin's Choice” at one time) when he was a young trainee priest. However, as a revolutionary he believed that smoking cigarettes would make him appear to be a member of the bourgeoisie, so he took up the working man's pipe. Unable to enjoy rough pipe tobacco after he had developed a taste for Herzegovina Flor, Stalin would instead take two cigarettes and shred the tobacco into his pipe to smoke [14]. After gaining rule as dictator of the Soviet Union, Stalin reigned with fear and terror from 1922 until he died from a smoking-related stroke in 1953. Amongst this smoker's sins, Stalin was responsible for the rape and murder of over 1.5 million German women, and the deaths of over 20 million people in total.

5. Augusto Pinochet

Coming into power through a violent and bloody coup in 1973, Augusto Pinochet ruled in Chile for almost twenty years. During his reign as dictator, Pinochet was responsible for over 30,000 human rights violations including torture, horrific sexual abuse, electrical shocks, waterboarding, psychological repression, and executions performed on the population at over 17 dedicated torture centres across the country. According to CIA reports, some of Pinochet's personal interests included horseback riding, gymnastics, drinking scotch and, of course, smoking cigarettes. [15]


[1] Time Magazine (2005) Exclusive interview with JK Rowling.,8599,1083890,00.html  6th March 2019

[2] India Today (2016) JK Rowling Enjoyed Smoking… Retrieved 6th March 2019

[3] JK Rowling (2017) Twitter. Retrieved 6th March 2019

[4] East Anglican Daily Times (2017) Who is stealing Oscar Wilde’s Cigarette? Retrieved 6th March 2019

[5] Peta Pixel (2016) Disneyland Used to Photoshop Out Cigarettes in Portraits of Walt Disney.

[6] Daily Telegraph (2015) Disney Bans Smoking in Films.

[7] Rolling Stone (2016) John Lennon: The Rolling Stone Interview Part One.

[8] Huffington Post (2015) Paul and Ringo are Good Role Models for Ageing Boomers.

[9] Heffernan, C. (2015) Up In Smoke - The Nazi Anti-Tobacco Campaign.

[10] Karacs, I. (2015) Revealed: how Nazis stubbed out smoking. The Independent.

[11] Salam, M. & Haag, M. (2018) Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions. New York Times.

[12] Smith, W. (2013) The Making of a Monster: Charles Manson’s Childhood.

[13] Hedegaad, E. (2013) Charles Manson Today: The Final Confessions of a Psychopath. Rolling Stone.

[14] Stalin’s Moustache (n.d.) Stalin’s tobacco preferences.

[15] CIA (n.d.) Biographic Handbook : Augusto Pinochet