|Paul Bowles, Oscar Wilde and Patricia Highsmith|
A number of famous writers smoked while they wrote. For example, Moliere said, “Whoever lives without tobacco doesn’t deserve to live.” And Oscar Wilde related, “A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”
And a study conducted by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences found the writers may smoke because smoking may have the ability to "boost concentration and imagination". However, the researchers also found that "heavy smoking damages the brain overall".
To possibly have the best of both worlds, like Mark Twain and Freud, you may want to consider cigars.
Brad Rodu posted on Tabacco Truth:
...the Kaiser Medical Care Program, one of the nation's largest health care maintenance organizations, provided the answer in 1999 by publishing an excellent study on cigar smoking in the New England Journal of Medicine. They followed 16,228 never smokers and 1,546 cigar smokers - all men - for 25 years, and compared rates of several diseases among them. Cigar smokers were divided into those smoking less than 5 cigars a day (let's call them moderate), and 5 or more (heavy).
Compared with never smokers, heavy cigar smokers were shown to have increased risks for several smoking related diseases. They had higher risks for heart disease (Relative Risk, RR = 1.6, 95% confidence interval, CI = 1.2 – 2.0), emphysema (RR = 2.3, CI = 1.4 – 3.7), oral and pharynx cancer (RR = 7.2, CI = 2.4 – 21.2), and lung cancer (RR = 3.2, CI = 1.01 – 10.4).
The good news: Moderate cigar smokers had only a slightly higher risk for heart disease (RR = 1.2, CI = 1.03 – 1.4). Those smoking fewer than 5 cigars daily had no significantly increased risks for stroke, emphysema, oral/pharynx cancer or lung cancer.
The comparable health risks of smokeless tobacco (ST), cigars and cigarettes are shown below.
Thus, just like with most things, moderation appears to be the key. It's advisable to smoke less than or equal to five cigars per day and not 22 like Twain.
And if you decide to smoke cigars while you write, I would additionally advise you to follow Mr. Bill's advice:
- Beverages (e.g., espresso) are good accompaniment for a cigar
- If you find yourself salivating...spit most of it out as opposed to swallowing it
- Do not smoke a cigar as you would a cigarette. (i.e., Like Clinton, do not inhale.)
- Take a puff every 30-90 seconds
- Lastly, and arguable most importantly, never smoke on an empty stomach or you'll end up like the Berlin clerks in Nabokov's "Beneficence":
...Berlin clerks were leaving their offices...in his eyes, the turbid nausea that comes when you smoke a bad cigar on an empty stomach...