Santa Claus Forced to Quit Smoking

A Visit From St. Nicholas’ was first published anonymously in 1823. Considered to be one of the most famous Santa poems in the English language Twas the Night Before Christmas’ has been published and reprinted many times in many different formats.

The poem is in fact largely responsible for creating the character of Santa Claus as we know him today- a  plump jolly man with ‘cheeks like roses’, a nose like a cherry, eyes that twinkle, a broad face, a wobbly belly,  dressed in red from head to toe carrying a bag full of toys on his back.

In 2012, Canadian independent publisher Pamela McColl edited the famous poem leaving out the verse and illustration that both described and showed Santa with a pipe.

The cover of the newly edited book claims the work is edited by Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century. Included on the back jacket flap is a letter from Santa himself announcing that “all of that old tired business of smoking” is behind him, claiming  that the reindeer can confirm his fur outerwear is faux out of respect for animals.

Though the new book has received a great deal of criticism, McColl has won the support of many parents and grandparents  as well as anti-smoking activists like the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  The new book has also received several awards.

There is no doubt in my mind that Pamela McColl had good intentions with the book. I am all for the cause to prevent children from smoking at an early age, though I don’t believe for one moment the original image of Santa with a pipe influences children to smoke.

In reality, surprisingly until I heard about the new book from Pamela herself I never gave any though to Santa Twas the Night Before Christmas with edits "by Santa Claussmoking in the original poem. I had to in fact read the original to find reference to the pipe and smoke that circled Santa’s head as a wreath. It shows you how much attention I ever paid to Santa and his pipe.

Nonetheless for parents who may be interested in the newly  edited book, I can tell you that the removal of the two lines doesn’t in anyway affect the flow or feeling of the book. The bright bold colorful images will certainly grab the attention of young  children. The drawing are representative of what the illustration is portraying.

I do feel if we were going to update a book for children of the 21st century perhaps some of  the illustrations should also have been updated to reflect today. The illustrations in Pam’s book reflects the era when the  famous poem was first published, with the family tree being lit with candles. The gifts in Santa’s pack are also reminiscent of older toys as well.

twas the night before christmasi

No offense Susan, but I think I will stick to the classic version with acceptation of  a personal revision from

Those interested in  purchasing Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century can visit

What are your opinions on the new version?

Rose DesRochers is a Blogger, Writer, product reviewer and Founder of Today's Woman. Please feel free to contact me if you are a company with a product for me to review.


  1. I am more concerened with Santa’s weight then his pipe! LOL..Maybe Santa should be thin and fed only salads and water. It is a story..he is not real..he is only around for a few weeks..geesh.


  2. It is a pipe..not a cigarette. Most kids are not picking up pipes and smoking them…I hope and I doubt they are paying attention to that particular part of the book anyway. You cant change history!


  3. I agree. I guess if we are going to change this piece of literature for the new age we should do it about the Land of the Lakes books as well. They talk of war and sex and trading, tobacco and beads for food. as well as wearing skins of the animals. I honestly think if people think we should change things how about writing your own?


  4. I personally have never met anyone who took up smoking because Santa did. We can’t keep trying to rewrite history. Personally I am totally sick of this new age “Political Correctness”. Of course I am old school, I still wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” too:)


  5. Dear Reviewer: I wanted you to have some additional information and thoughts on this matter. As the publisher I did my research on the impact of sympathetic imagery of smoking on children. In 1998 the United States government made the depiction of cartoon characters smoking illegal due to research that showed such depiction in advertising influenced and sympathized young children to tobacco products. Santa Claus is the most influential character on the planet and can outsell even Ronald McDonald. He is the last person who should be “normalizing” this most deadly product – that if used on a regular long term basis will claim the life of 50% of the people who use it. One in four people on the planet will die a tobacco related death in this century. Anything that can be done to prevent that fact is a step in the right direction. One thousand children were asked about smoking by the Department of Health in the UK almost all of them said they wished no one smoked and those with parents that do smoke lie in bed at night and worry about them getting sick and leaving them alone. This book was done for the tobacco prevention movement but also for these little kids who do not need the added worry of Santa Claus smoking away in the middle of the story and the Moore’s living room. We need to shake things up and not allow tobacco to keep on killing. We also need to kick it out of the movies that kids see – as the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada have studied and found that 43% of Canadian kids get hooked through Hollywood.

    As for the candles that is a teachable moment should some child decide to put candles on a tree. Smoking is far more sinister and we need to protect children from its reach.

    One billion people will die a premature tobacco related death in this century and Clement C. Moore, a father of six, would have most certainly have approved given what we now know about tobacco disease and death.

    Sincerely The Publisher


    Rose Reply:

    You are teaching children how to start a fire? Putting real candles on a Christmas tree is a fire hazard. You do realize that a burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases don’t you? Tisk tisk. That would definitely kill a child long before smoking would.

    It seems to me that there are many books that may be a bit more psychologically damaging than Santa puffing a pipe.


  6. I think this is rather silly if you ask me. When I was a kid Santa smoking a tabaco pipe wasn’t what I was comsentrating on . Pointing it out and putting a letter in the back of the book is going to make kids notice it I think.



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