American Presidents Who Loved Their Cigars

Written by: Juan Panesso



Time to read 4 min

Cigars have played a major role in shaping American history, symbolizing moments of relaxation, celebration, and even power. It's fascinating to note that some of the country's leaders were cigar enthusiasts. From the founding days of our nation to much later, cigars have been intertwined with the lives of many presidents, each with their own unique stories to share.

Just picture yourself sitting with George Washington, the founding father of our nation, as he enjoys a deserved cigar after a meal. His appreciation for tobacco extended beyond pleasure as he actively supported the growing tobacco industry during his era. Another example is Thomas Jefferson - a man known for his refined tastes, who also found enjoyment in indulging in cigars.

Moving forward to a time when Ulysses S. Grant sought solace and inspiration by smoking up to 20 cigars per day. Theodore Roosevelt was also frequently seen with a cigar in hand, carefully placed in his specially designed cigar holder.

For these presidents, cigars were more than just indulgence; they became an essential part of their presidential legacies. Let’s take a look at some of America’s presidents who loved their cigars:

Andrew Jackson

He was the seventh President of the United States and was known for his love of pairing cigars with coffee. According to reports, he once told his doctor that these were the two things he couldn't do without. Even his wife, Rachel, shared his passion for cigars and apparently joined him in enjoying cigars on the veranda of their Nashville home.

Chester Arthur

The 21st President of America was known for his late-night dining habits, and often enjoying meals well into the night. He was fond of finishing his meals with Champagne and expensive cigars. Talk about a presidential lifestyle!

Benjamin Harrison

The 23rd President had the rare pleasure of receiving cigars sent to him by a hometown tobacconist in Indianapolis. These special deliveries meant that he always had access to the finest cigars, a luxury enjoyed by few.

William McKinley

He was the 25th President and his deep passion for cigars is well known. He was perhaps the most serious cigar smoker among all the presidents. The only time he was without a cigar in his mouth was during meals or when he was asleep. He had a particular affinity for cigars and was often seen with the choicest brands.

William Howard Taft

The robust and rotund 27th President, William Howard Taft, didn't shy away from being seen with a cigar. He was known to start his day with a foot-long Cuban cigar and would often smoke as many as three Super Coronas by noon. Taft used cigars as a prop and weapon to influence conversations and people and cigars were an integral part of his presidential persona.

Herbert Hoover

Following Coolidge in the White House, President Herbert Hoover was another cigar enthusiast known for smoking up to 20 cigars a day. He is said to have liked strong cigars and if reports from the White House usher have to be believed, he liked to savor them throughout the day.

Dwight Eisenhower

The 34th US President had a fondness for cigars and would often enjoy one along with a drink after White House parties. The combination of cigars and drinks helped him to relax and bond with his guests.

John F. Kennedy

JFK is said to have had a soft spot for the Cuban H. Upmann Petit Corona and, in his younger days, he used to share cigars with his father, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy. Here’s another trivia - Once he took office in the White House, President Kennedy faced the Cuba crisis, and it led him to make some significant decisions. Among them was signing the Cuban trade embargo, but before doing so, he had a clever plan. Kennedy instructed his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, who was also a cigar lover, to gather as many Cuban cigars as possible. Salinger managed to bring back an impressive stash of around 1,200 cigars. Only after securing this prized collection, Kennedy supposedly signed the embargo into effect.

Richard Nixon

During Richard Nixon's presidency, cigars had their last moment of favorability in the White House when it came to being openly enjoyed. Even though President Nixon wasn't a regular cigar smoker, he would often light up a cigar and share the moment with guests after official dinners. This marked the end of an era where cigars were offered and enjoyed during such prestigious events at the White House.

Bill Clinton

In William Jefferson Clinton's time in the White House as the 42nd president, you might remember seeing pictures of him with unlit cigars in his mouth.  Interestingly, it was under Clinton's administration that smoking got banned in the White House, and they removed ashtrays in the later years.

George W. Bush

As for President George W. Bush, the 43rd president, he was also known to enjoy cigars, but like Clinton, he was careful about being seen smoking them in public.

It is uncertain how the cigar culture will influence the presidential experience as new presidents take office over time. Although smoking in the White House may not be openly accepted anymore, the cigar affection of some presidents will always remain a part of American history. Cigar enthusiasts, including those who have served as the country's leaders, will continue to treasure the traditions, customs, and companionship that come with the cigar lifestyle.