Cigar Smoking Icons: JFK

JFK smoking a cigar

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, popularly known as JFK, was the 35th President of the United States. As well as being renowned for his political career, cigar lovers will know of him as being an iconic cigar smoker, with a complicated history regarding these smokes. We take a look at his life and his relationship with cigars.


Early Life

Born in Massachusetts in 1917, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was one of nine children born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Throughout his teen years, Kennedy suffered from a number of health issues that caused some disruption to his education. His health problems also led to his medical disqualification from the army. Instead, he joined the United States Naval Reserve in 1941 and went on to gain a number of awards, including the American Defence Service Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.


Political Beginnings

Kennedy’s older brother Joseph had been set to pursue presidency, but following his death in a Naval aeroplane explosion during World War II, this career path fell to JFK. As such, he started his political career as a member of Congress after winning the Democratic primary in Massachusetts in 1946. He served for six years in the House of Representatives, before gaining a Senate seat in 1952. After two terms in the Senate, JFK decided to pursue Presidency.



Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in January 1960. In January 1961, he was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States, with his charisma and energy being key factors in his election. JFK was a president of many firsts; he is the youngest elected president, elected at 43 years old; he is the first Roman Catholic to serve in office, and he is the first president to have served in the US Navy. His presidency was largely spent focussed on the Cold War, and tensions with communist states. Kennedy’s presidency was cut short following his assassination in 1963.


JFK’s Relationship With Cuba

A key aspect of Kennedy’s presidency was focussed on Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the 1960s, the hostile relationship between Cuba and the US intensified, eventually leading to an embargo on Cuban trade in 1962. This prevented any Cuban products from entering the United States.


JFK and Cigars

Despite the political tensions, Kennedy was known for his fondness for Cuban cigars, making his relationship with the country a little complex! Before he put the embargo in place, he was sure to get a good stock of smokes. His head of press, Pierre Salinger, once revealed that the president had requested ‘a lot of cigars’ the day before the embargo was signed. JFK specifically asked for 1000 Petit Upmanns, looking to stockpile his favourite smoke before he could no longer import the cigars legally! He was able to source 1,200 of these cigars before the embargo was signed, however, given that JFK died the following year, it is unlikely that he managed to get through all of these!


If you would like to experience the taste of Cuban cigars to see why JFK liked them so much, then check out the range of smokes from Cuba we have available here at Havana House.

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