Cigars and Politics

Smoking cigars has long been seen as a symbol of power, and this is no better expressed than by the long list of political figures renowned for their love of a good stogie.

We take a look at some of the key political figures who have become known for their appreciation of cigars.

Winston Churchill

When you think of cigars and politics, then it’s more than likely you’ll think of Winston Churchill.

It is undeniable that this man loved his smokes – it is estimated that he smoked 200,000 cigars in his lifetime! That works out at around eight cigars per day. He imported cigars over from Cuba, and had a room at his Chartwell Manor residence stocked up with 4,000 cigars.

Churchill’s love of cigars was sparked by a visit to Cuba, where he was working as a journalist and discovered a taste for fine Cuban cigars. As Prime Minister, Churchill was rarely photographed without a cigar in hand or mouth, and so became renowned as an iconic cigar smoker.

The former Prime Minister’s love for cigars has even led to Romeo y Julieta, his favourite brand, to create the Churchill vitola. The Churchill cigar is seven inches long with a 47 ring gauge.

Churchill Cigar Smoking Quirks

Churchill had a number of quirks relating to his cigar smoking. For one, he did not take much notice of cigar etiquette, instead opting for his own methods of smoking. Rather than using a cigar cutter, he would prepare a cigar by moistening the end and then making a hole with an extra-long match. He would also often use a candle to relight the cigar if it went out.

Despite his love of cigars, he rarely actually finished a cigar, instead choosing to smoke half and then discard the rest in an ashtray. During later life, these discarded cigars were given to the gardener at his home to use as pipe tobacco!

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

JFK – the 35th President of the United States – is another politician famous for his love of cigars.

Kennedy was the President responsible for introducing the embargo between Cuba and the United States. Despite his love for Cuban cigars, this embargo prevented Cuban exports, leading to Cuban cigars being widely unavailable in the States.

Cuban Embargo

Knowing of the embargo, Kennedy made a request while in Cuba for his Head of Press, Pierre Salinger, to find “a lot of cigars” to bring back as a secret stash for him to smoke after imports were made impossible.

He made a specific request for 1000 Petit Upmanns, which were his favourite smoke. Luckily, 1,200 of these cigars were sourced for the President. However, unfortunately, it is very unlikely he managed to smoke all of these as he was famously shot dead the following year.

Fidel Castro

One of the most influential figures in the world of cigars, Fidel Castro was the Cuban leader responsible for nationalising Cuba’s cigar industry.

Castro is said to have started smoking at the age of fifteen when his father introduced him to the smokes, and he continued smoking until the age of 59. He quit smoking after 44 years as he wanted to be an example to his country after warnings about the risks of smoking.

Throughout Castro’s life, there were numerous attempts to assassinate him. This included him being given a cigar that would have exploded when lit, as well as being given a cigar that had been poisoned with botulinum toxin.

Cohiba Cigars

Castro’s favourite smokes came from the brand Cohiba. Established in 1966, Cohiba was initially created as a limited production brand exclusively for Castro. As well as being smoked by Castro himself, these Cohiba cigars would be given as diplomatic gifts.

A box of 50 Cohiba Lanceros, which had been signed by Castro, sold at auction for £12,000 at a charity dinner in 1993.

There are many more famous cigar smokers that we have covered in previous posts – why not check out some of our favourites:

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