Why Churchill Shunned Pipes and Cigarettes

Why Churchill Shunned Pipes and Cigarettes

A friend sent me a Dun­hill fea­ture from the Dai­ly Tele­graph, stat­ing that Churchill occa­sion­al­ly smoked a pipe as a hol­i­day from cig­ars: “I can find no ref­er­ence to him hav­ing ever smoked a pipe, can you?”

I think Dun­hills are stretch­ing. I can find no tes­ti­mo­ny to Churchill ever smok­ing a pipe. There are indi­ca­tions that he deplored pipe smok­ing (though he tol­er­at­ed it from Sir Arthur Ted­der). Per­haps this arose through his antipa­thy (which grew in the ear­ly 1930s) to Prime Min­is­ter Stan­ley Bald­win.

Stan­ley Bald­win 1867-1947

By look­ing for Bald­win ref­er­ences, I found a key cig­ar-and-pipe stand­off between Churchill and “SB” in 1924, when they were on bet­ter terms, in Mar­tin Gilbert’s Win­ston S. Churchill, vol. 5, page 59 quot­ing Churchill (from an unpub­lished note) after the 1924 gen­er­al elec­tion, when Bald­win was form­ing his new Con­ser­v­a­tive government:

I was shown into the Prime Minister’s office. After a few com­mon­places I asked him whether he mind­ed the smoke of a cig­ar. He said “No,” and pulled out his famous pipe. Then he said “Are you will­ing to help us?” I replied guard­ed­ly, “Yes, if you real­ly want me.” I had no inten­tion of join­ing the Gov­ern­ment except in some great posi­tion, and I had no idea—nor had any­one else—what was in his mind. So when he said, “Will you be Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer?” I was aston­ished. I had nev­er dreamed my cred­it with him stood so high….I should have liked to have answered, “Will the bloody duck swim?” but as it was a for­mal and impor­tant con­ver­sa­tion I replied, “This ful­fils my ambition….”

I sup­pose at the point Churchill would have hap­pi­ly smoked Baldwin’s pipe himself.

There are also indi­ca­tions that he deplored Vir­ginia cig­a­rettes, though he smoked cig­a­rettes ear­ly in his youth. In Paul Reid’s man­u­script for Defend­er of the Realm 1940-1965the upcom­ing third vol­ume of The Last Lion, which read for Mr. Reid, is a com­ment from Churchill’s pri­vate sec­re­tary Jock Colville, after WSC had failed to bring the Turks into  World War II. Colville found WSC puff­ing a Turk­ish cigarette—the one and only time he’d ever been seen with one. Ges­tic­u­lat­ing with it, Churchill said, “It’s the only thing I ever got from the Turks.”

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