Cigarette Holders, Vol. 9, Issue 5

Dear Etiquetteer: Cigarette holders: pro or con?

Dear Holding:

The short answer is con. But if you're asking Etiquetteer, that means you want more than the short answer . . .

These days we see cigarette holders only on the stage. Quite possibly the last person to use a cigarette holder Without Ostentation was President Franklin D. Roosevelt,* who used a short plain cigarette holder. They seem to have fallen out of fashion because (Etiquetteer will hazard a guess) cigarette filters became standard and better. The only true purpose of a cigarette holder now is to keep from staining one's fingers with nicotine.

The danger of using a holder is that one might end up ostentatiously waving it about and making Grand Gestures, which would be Very Improper and call negative attention to oneself. (On the other hand, if one considers the ways that Margo Channing and Addison DeWitt smoke their cigarettes in All About Eve, it is the former who is more ostentatious, but the latter who is using a cigarette holder.) For gentlemen, there is the danger of appearing effeminate, cigarette holders no longer being considered a masculine accessory. The only type of cigarette holder a gentleman could use discreetly would be the very shortest kind, and severely plain.

Ladies who smoke have more leeway to use longer and more decorative holders if they choose. Even so, the lengthy and bejeweled holders of a past era no longer appear very elegant. This may have to do with the backlash against smoking in the last 30 years or so. Accessories that call attention to the Filthy Habit are not, perhaps, so welcome. It's been a long time since Patrick Dennis walked into Beekman Place and saw his Auntie Mame using an arms-length bamboo holder!

*The tyranny of Political Correctness has forced FDR to be depicted in his wheelchair (which he went to great lengths to conceal) and without his cigarette holder (which the entire world saw him using).