Other than an occasional victory cigar, we've never seen pictures of our U.S. presidents with a cigarette in their hand. Were there any modern-day presidents that actively inhaled while in office?
-- Ken, Cardiff
I can maybe see W junior chewing on a bubble gum cigar, but he's not likely to stink up the Rose Garden with tobacco. However the list of presidential puffers is surprisingly long. One of the most famous pictures of Franklin Roosevelt shows him smiling broadly and clutching a cigarette holder (with glowing butt) between his teeth. When the Trumans moved into the White House, they probably had to dry clean the drapes; Harry was a nonsmoker. According to the Truman Library in Missouri, Harry once received a letter from a man who collected cigarette butts from famous people. The president wrote back saying he was sorry but he couldn't oblige; he had tried smoking once when he was a kid, out behind the barn in Independence, but his dad caught him and whupped him good, and he never tried it again.
According to the Tobacco Institute, the industry mouthpiece, Dwight Eisenhower smoked, as did Lyndon Johnson, the last daily cigarette smoker to fog up the Oval Office. They also say Richard Nixon was an ex-smoker by the time he was elected. The Museum of Tobacco Art and History in Nashville contends that Nixon remained a champion cigar smoker. They also say JFK was also an ex-smoker who switched to a pipe and cigars, though Jackie was a chain smoker big time. There's no photographic evidence of that, since White House camera corps was barred from snapping the First Lady sucking on a butt.
Gerald Ford was known to smoke a pipe occasionally. And many candid pics of Ronald Reagan from the '40s show him with a pipe in his hand, though it never appeared to be filled with tobacco, so it may have been just a prop to give him an air of distinction. It works in Hollywood, why not in Washington? Reagan's best known connection to the tobacco industry was a series of magazine ads from the '50s that show him toking on a Chesterfield. But Ronnie acquired his jelly bean jones when he quit smoking cigarettes, so he wasn't a smoker when he tottered into the White House. Clinton, Carter, Truman, and the Bushes are the only smoke-free presidents in the modern era.